In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Caesar Augustus could never have imagined what you and I take for granted: a child born in a subjugated corner of his empire would build a kingdom that would outlast Rome—and every empire after. The glad tidings preached and lived by this child would bring to human existence a strength and a meaning that no human governance could offer.
Yes, in some ways we witness this in the perennial charges of state-sponsored proselytization when public school students dare sing Christmas hymns, or in lawsuits against the placement of Christian imagery on public property. In more volatile areas, Christmas—and Christianity in general—comes with fiery and lethal persecution.
Jesus and the Centurion by Paolo Veronese (1528 - 1588)
[j]ustice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests.
Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God—an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.
[t]he Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.
Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable. The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ.
[a]ll Christians, their pastors included, are called to show concern for the building of a better world. This is essential, for the Church’s social thought is primarily positive: it offers proposals, it works for change and in this sense it constantly points to the hope born of the loving heart of Jesus Christ.
Sing to the LORD a new song;sing to the LORD, all you lands.Sing to the LORD; bless his name.R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Announce his salvation, day after day.Tell his glory among the nations;among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;let the sea and what fills it resound;let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;for he comes to rule the earth.He shall rule the world with justiceand the peoples with his constancy.R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.