Jesus Christ was born about 2000 years ago. If you search his name on Amazon, you get about 180,000 results. Do the same for Aristotle, 14,000; Plato, 16,000; Aquinas, 14,000; Muhammad, 23,000; Hitler; 16,000; Stalin, 6,000; Churchill, 11,000; Roosevelt, 36,000; Eisenhower, 7,000; Reagan, 12,000; Luther, 2,000; Knox, 15,000.
Based on the above, it’s safe to say that President Grant was on safe ground in 1870 when he made Christmas, December 25th, a national holiday out of respect for the man whose birthday is celebrated on that day, Jesus Christ. Religion aside, Grant recognized the obvious when he made his holiday decision – the uniqueness of Christ’s message during his ministry was the most powerful and durable ever uttered. He wanted to memorialize Christmas because he thought it was fitting for the nation to celebrate the birthday of the most influential man who ever lived.
Those who try to reduce Christmas to a “seasonal” celebration, or to a day that has no reference to Christ, demonstrate an unwillingness to, at the least, celebrate greatness or, at the most, to celebrate the birthday of the man who many have adored for centuries as God in human form.
Those who refuse to say “Merry Christmas” during the holiday season, or those who attempt to eliminate all symbols that relate to Christ, his birth and his influence are out of touch with why the holiday was created in the first place. Celebrating Christmas is not an attempt to Christianize the nation; it is simply allowing a large segment of the body politic to recognize the unique greatness of the man who has had the most influence over humankind than any other person who ever walked the earth.
Christmas undeniably brings to the every-day environment a feeling of goodness that infiltrates the hearts of most people. Children sense that something special is happening. The stern faces of hard-working adults begin to relax. Goodwill fills the air. Christians would attribute this to the hand of God as He, for a few weeks, increases the supply of love and respect for others in the human heart.
Perhaps that explains why a man in the early 20th century penned the following lines that many believe capture the power of Jesus in just a few words.
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never went to college.
He never visited a big city.
He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He did none of the things usually associated with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty three (when he was crucified).
His friends ran away.
One of them denied him.
He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.
When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today Jesus is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress.
All the armies that have ever marched,
All the navies that have ever sailed,
All the parliaments that have ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that one solitary life.
Orthodox Christians accept Christ as God, the second person in the Holy Trinity who, in the form of man, was on the earth for 33 years. Jews regard him as a "false messiah," meaning someone who claimed … the mantle of the Messiah but who ultimately did not meet the requirements laid out in Jewish beliefs.” Muslims recognize Jesus as a great Prophet, but the Koran rejects “with absolute vehemence the insinuation that Jesus is God or the son of God.” Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, said: “During many years of my life I considered Jesus of Nazareth a great Master, perhaps the strongest the world has ever known. I can say that Jesus holds a special place in my heart as a teacher who has exerted a considerable influence on my life."
Christian, Islam and Hindu -- about 4.9 billion people in our 6.9-billion- people world belong to these three religions. At a minimum, they have the highest respect for Jesus Christ and, once again, they will celebrate his birthday -- once again they will ignore those who try to secularize or eliminate the legal American holiday that was established for a serious purpose -- to honor Jesus Christ.
Robert Kelly, author of several books on baseball, politics and the national debt is also a freelance, award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in many newspapers. His latest book, Neck and Neck to the White House, is available at Amazon and the better bookstores. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org