Where do they get these guys? I was listening to a National Public Radio discussion in the car recently where 3 "experts" we're parsing the latest pronouncement from the new Pope. It seems that since Pope Francis was chosen as Time magazine's Person of the Year he elected to speak out on the subject of world poverty by criticizing the West in particular for its excessive materialism and runaway capitalism. Of course the Pope, as the duly elected head of the Catholic Church, has a duty and right to speak for this group. He believes both in God and Jesus Christ and assumes he speaks for both on the subject. Fair enough. I don't agree with his conclusion (all the world's ills with regard to poverty can be traced to the practice of competitive capitalism) but he is at least qualified to speak as a Catholic leader because he adheres to their history, traditions, and beliefs.

The three wise men on NPR radio had no such credibility. One was a former Jesuit priest who had left the priesthood to work for a bank, the other was a professor who taught at a Catholic university but was introduced as a non-Catholic, and the third was a former Christian who abandoned Christianity in order to embrace Islam. Each took themselves seriously as they pontificated on the true meaning of the Scriptures and Jesus' actual position regarding the role of society towards the poor. Really?!!

This is the perfect example of the unbelieving world's smug attitude concerning Christ and His teachings...certain about their conclusions concerning the Lord but unwilling to acknowledge their faith in Him. Imagine! Taking lessons on the true role of Christians towards the poor from someone who has publicly repudiated Jesus in favor of Mohammed !

The same goes for Christmas. We live in a society where Hollywood has become the purveyor of what Christmas is all about. The same folks who inundate us with ungodly ideas and images for profit most of the year go all out in monetizing the birth of Christ at Christmas with syrupy movies that substitute the significance of the event with messages about the "magic" of Christmas, a magic that is about stars, romance, lost puppies, and angels in the guise of old men or children. A magic that is about everything and anything except the birth of Christ.

Paul warns us appropriately when he cautions against the devil among us appearing as a angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). The evil one corrupts everything that could actually shine light into this dark world to the point where even a holiday with the name of Christ in it becomes a vehicle for worldly excess and dissimulation.

Let's be careful brethren. Not of eating or spending too much at this time of year but rather of being taken in by those who are circulating a counterfeit Christmas. Let's rejoice in the knowledge that the happiness we feel is because salvation finally arrived as the Christ child was born in Bethlehem. Not magic but God's promise fulfilled.