Those early Christians living in Rome were an ingenious group. They lived in the shadow of the coliseum, that horror chamber where slaves, gladiators, prisoners, wild animals, and, depending on the whim of the emperor, Christians themselves were massacred in numbers too astonishing to even grasp. And all of this for the “entertainment” of the public, who appear to have had no end to their appetite for gore.
Imagine living in a world where the emperor thought he was the son of the gods, and celebrated his birthday on December 25th, the feast of the Invincible Sun, a big party around the winter solstice that rejoiced in the sun gradually “coming back” to earth. What’s a Christian to do in such a world? That’s easy. Decide that December 25th will henceforth be celebrated as the birthday of Christ, the true Son of God, the only Invincible Son.
What about the mythical founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus? Abandoned at birth by their human mother and their father Mars, the god of war, they were nursed by a she-wolf until adopted by a shepherd. They went on to found Rome, but, alas, they quarreled, and Romulus killed Remus. So the great city of Rome sprouted from the seeds of war and fratricide. But a big party in honor of them was held in Rome every June 29th.
What’s a Christian to do? That’s easy too. Proclaim June 29th as the feast day of the twin leaders of the Church, Peter and Paul. That’s how you lift up a culture. You place Jesus in the hearts of those who want to rejoice, but need an actual reason.
What ingenious ways do you use to bring Jesus into the conversation?