By Mgr Harry Entwistle
Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross
Christians believe Jesus to be truly God and truly human and was born in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, who declared himself to be divine and high priest.
The human Augustus elevated himself to the level of a god, Jesus who is the Son of God, humbled himself to become fully human.
This is not the only contrast between the two. Both saw their mission as bringing peace to the world. Augustus achieved this through successful propaganda, telling people what was good for them and through control of all aspects of their lives.
Differences of views were tolerated as long as the good order of the Empire was not challenged.
In contrast, Jesus saw peace as wholeness. This flows from life that corresponds to God’s will. It is harmony based on the right relationship between persons and God, persons and each other, the natural world and oneself.
Remove God from these relationships and either the State or the uninformed individual conscience fills the gap. Australia is increasingly adopting rules and laws that define the limits of our behaviour, morals, religious beliefs and freedom of association and speech.
When Christians, especially Catholics, challenge these laws they are vilified, punished or abused.
Jesus did not advocate changing society by directly attacking the State using force, but he advocated bringing about change through his faithful disciples, living their lives according to God’s will and boldly proclaiming that will to the world.
In our present times, the Western world is becoming worse than the Roman Empire, because rather than accommodating the Christian viewpoint, it is systematically destroying it.
In the challenges that the Church now faces, the numbers of faithful may decline, so the faith and commitment of those remaining needs to be stronger than ever.
As we begin our Christmas celebrations, let us remember who, and what we are celebrating.
Are we celebrating the values that God presents us through the one who is both God and Man, or the secular values of those who consider themselves to be the god they worship?