Masonry is not a religion. However, it is composed of men of faith. And not exclusively the Christian faith, either. As we are taught in the first degree,
By the exercise of Brotherly Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family—the high, the low, the rich, the poor—who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other. On this principle, Masonry unites men of every country, sect, and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.Many of our brethren are Jewish, or Hindu, or any of a number of religions. So long as they believe in a Supreme Being, they are welcome, as it should be. And as we progress in the craft, we're encouraged to learn more about religions other than our own, in order to better understand our fellow humans, be they Freemasons or not. We are, after all, admonished to act upon the square and keep our passions within due bounds with all mankind, not just brother Masons. We're not secretive about this: it is our purpose.
As tempting as it may be as an American Christian to say, "We say Merry Christmas: like it or leave", it's hardly the Masonic thing to do. It is the season of Christmas, yes. It's also a season of celebration for other faiths. We cannot respect our fellows without respecting that. And yes, even the atheists who cannot be made Masons deserve the human consideration of being able to celebrate for the sake of celebration and be a little less dour and a little more giving in this short span of time.
This tolerance is something that should be given freely and without hesitation, without even the pause to think about it. Christ Himself did not confine His company or His blessings solely to those who were blameless or who believed in Him first. Just as His example brought people closer to God, it also teaches us a lesson regarding our own deportment. As we conduct ourselves, let us not forget that God created all men, even the ones we don't like.
Certainly "Christmas" by definition requires Christ, so say "Merry Christmas" without guilt or fear. But, while those celebrating the holidays without Him are celebrating something else that coincidentally takes place at the same time, by the free will with which they're endowed they are truly entitled to that. If you're Christian and someone says to you, "Happy Holidays", know that this all-encompassing greeting includes Christmas. So when you hear it, understand that they're either Christians who are not sure of your faith and they're being polite; or they're not Christians and they're still being polite, wishing you happiness. Any offense that you take is offense you brought with you: discard it. If, perchance, they are actually trying to rile you, then remove the power of their preconceptions by accepting their "well wishes" in the spirit in which you would have liked it to have been given.
And if they take offense with you, ignore it. The world has larger problems than who took offense at some offense that gave offense because someone else was offended by the offenses... It never ends, and eventually, you can't remember where it even started. Often we can best address the failings of others by correcting our own. In such a way we can set an example that brings people together rather than driving them apart.
This is not the time for division, derision, rescission, excision and collision. It is a time for Brotherly Love for all Mankind. It is a time to aid, support, and protect each other. It is a time to unite men of every country, sect, and opinion, and to conciliate true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. It is a time to practice Masonry at its very fullest, to the best of our ability.
Merry Christmas, my brethren; and a Happy New Year.
|Happy Holidays, too!|