This Christmas the fuss and furore is all about a Nativity display in which Jesus, Mary and Joseph are all in cages. Separate cages.

The message is a comment on the US border patrol allegedly separating immigrant family members and keeping the people in cages. The self righteous left are using it as a propaganda point while the self righteous right point out that far more people were detained, confined and deported under the Obama regime than Trump.

Catholic social teaching on the matter is clear: We should welcome and assist refugees and immigrants as our brothers and sisters knowing that what we do (or don’t do) for them we do unto Christ. It is also true that countries have a right to defend their own borders and protect their citizens. These two necessities call for compassion to be balanced with common sense and for proper immigration procedures to be put in place that both protect citizens, define borders AND welcome legally those who need asylum, refuge and a better life.

Why is that so hard?

I guess it is easier to use the immigrants to score political points rather than work out fair, compassionate and just solutions by real people for real people.

But this is nothing new. I’m old enough now to realize that just about every Christmas the story of the Holy Family is used by politicians, priests, pastors, journalists and other quacks to make a political point. I have to admit, it is usually the leftists who are most fond of this tactic. We’ve had the Holy Family as persecuted Palestinians, the Holy Family as homeless people, the Holy Family as refugees from war, the Holy Family as persecuted farmers, heck, a couple of years ago I remember a nativity scene with two St Josephs dressed in pink. Hey! It was a gay Holy Family! What next? Mary and Elizabeth as two lesbians who are pregnant through artificial insemination?

On the right, it is the Slaughter of the Innocents which is used as an anti-abortion preaching point. I’m waiting for the right wingers to portray the Holy Family as victims of unfair and extreme taxation, victims of interference by big government, victims of harassment by New Age astrologers and intrusion by pagan priests into their religion…

OK. It’s getting silly, but the whole thing IS silly isn’t it, and not only silly but dumb.

What everyone is doing is projecting onto the Christmas story their own political agenda and preaching points. It’s not totally wrong to do this. It is okay to point out that Mary and Joseph remind us of homeless people, refugees and that Herod killing the inconvenient babies is just what we do in abortion, but these must always be secondary preaching points.

They’re not the main story. The main story is the incarnation of God’s son who took human flesh for our redemption. The main story is that the word was made flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.

The rest is at best a second tier priority…

…and at worst simply a distraction from the true meaning and message of Christ’s birth.