One of the Christmas traditions in our lifetime is the annual TV presentation of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” by the famous filmmaker, Frank Capra. In his autobiography, “The Name Above the Title,” Mr. Capra said of this film:
“A film to tell the weary, the disheartened, and the disillusioned; the wino, the junkie, the prostitute; those behind prison walls, and those behind Iron Curtains, that no man is a failure …
“A film that said to the downtrodden, the pushed-around, the pauper, ‘Heads up, fella. No man is poor who has one friend. Three friends and you’re filthy rich.’”
I think Mr. Capra gives us, in these words, the reason why Christians insist that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Christians have different opinions about many things in the Gospel story, but all agree that Jesus is presented as one who has a special compassion for the afflicted and the needy. It’s why Jesus is respected and often revered by members of non-Christian faiths, as well as by people who do not associate themselves with any organized faith.
It cannot be denied that, historically, our modern world and culture have been profoundly shaped by the influence of Jesus and the Christian movement, which grew out of his followers. Many institutions at the core of our lives – hospitals, hotels, universities – have their roots in the history of Christianity. The values cited by the founders of our nation are those which came from a European civilization, which grew out of Christianity and its Jewish roots.
To proclaim that “Jesus is the reason for the season” is simply to recognize that paying tribute to the birth of Jesus is to keep alive the hope that all human life is recognized to be of great value … or to put it as Frank Capra did in his autobiography: “I wanted to shout, ‘You are the salt of the earth. And ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is my memorial to you.’”