Although I am buying Christmas presents, I worry about the extent to which I am contributing to the commercialisation of Christmas.
We all need to keep in our hearts and minds the reason for celebrating Christmas, which is the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour. We do experience commercial influences, especially in advertising, which detract from or even ridicule the central event of the Nativity. But commerce need not be regarded as harmful in itself, especially since the giving of gifts is a way of fostering the ties of family and friendship.
As a human activity that is part of a thriving society, business and trade are recognised by the Church as activities which help the common good. The Catechism teaches that those responsible for business must be accountable and consider the good of others, rather than simply the increase of profits. It goes on to say: “Profits are necessary, however. They make possible the investments that ensure the future of a business and they guarantee employment” (2432). Francis has spoken of the harm caused by unemployment and so we may consider this when we contribute to the business success of others by buying things. If we condemn the abuses caused by some larger enterprises, we should also remember those who earn their livelihood by running small businesses, taking risks that make it possible for them to provide employment.
The small business of St Joseph in which our Lord grew up might serve as a reminder to us.
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