A Spanish commercial for J&B Whiskey celebrating love and affirmation went viral for its heartwarming message. The commercial centers upon a grandfather quietly learning to apply makeup and finally assisting his grandchild in transforming on Christmas Day. The ad is heralded for its inclusivity and its final moments highlight the heart of Christainity: The magic of Christmas is about a God of acceptance and love. And that love is not only in Christmas but in all of us. 

J&B’s is so Christ-like most will miss it. The commercial is not about hatred, grooming, or false narratives of libraries or teachers secretly educating children, no cat litter boxes, or hidden perverted messages of sexual identity. There’sThere’s no message about sexual education at all. Instead, the commercial reflects acceptance, respect, and tolerance. The message demonstrates something that Christ would probably do: Accept one another in love and grace. And love and grace are something the world must embrace in 2023.

Just as Christ could identify during his years on earth, many people from all walks of life (LGTBIQ+ collective included) feel uncomfortable or rejected in their own families and cannot celebrate the true inspiration of the holiday season. As we know, conservative news outlets publish horror stories, while most real-life stories are more complicated and exciting than the narratives themselves. For such participants, fear is the weapon. And today’stoday’s campaign against “groomers” is nothing more than moral fear-mongering.

As we move toward and into 2023, it’s vital to note that while many Christians draw on their faith traditions to shape beliefs, the concept of sexual orientation is new. Until recent decades, same-sex activity was labeled similar to gluttony or drunkenness. That means gay or lesbianism was considered a vice of excess that anyone could be prone to participate in. It was not an expression of sexual orientation. The Christian tradition [or Bible, for that matter] never addressed the current issue of LGBT people and their relationships. Yet, a conservative movement from the fringes of American politics had some 30 candidates pledging fealty to QAnon, a fake far-right conspiracy organization that promotes some politicians are cannibalistic child-sex traffickers. 

Even though I am no longer part of the Catholic Church, I occasionally catch Vatican Radio. Each year, Vatican Radio reflects upon the transformative power of Christ. “At the first Christmas, God came to us in Jesus of Nazareth that we may be reconciled with God and become servants of reconciliation,” the Vatican’s 2022 message concluded. “With all good wishes for a blessed Christmas season, we invite you to welcome in faith and love the angels’ promise of peace and to live on the path to justice, reconciliation, and unity.”

That unity does not mean busing immigrants and dropping them off in front of Vice President Harris’ home in subzero weather. Likewise, the path to justice does not mean ostracizing every black, Asian, LGBTQ member, Muslim, school teacher, or librarian. Instead, the peace of Christ should decrease hate, eliminate the proliferation of conspiracy theories, hold those accountable for violating human rights, and prevent threats to democracy. The ancient Christian teaching is that faith and love will drive out fear.

J&B’s 2022 Christmas message is not hatred. One Youtube user noted, “I honestly wasn’t sure if this was about an older person exploring themselves, but damn, that was a beautiful ending.” Another added, “What a twist at the end – I couldn’t stop crying. If only there were this much love and acceptance in all families worldwide.” Unfortunately, Christ’s real message goes unheard. Instead, we embellish a crackpot Florida politician.

Reflecting upon Gov. DeSantis, writer Michael Winters noted that the man is “dry as dirt.” Instead, we must reach beyond ourselves. The poet David White wrote, “Your vulnerability, your wound is the place where you are open to the world, whether you want to be or not. But if we choose to be, there’s a great depth that rewards us in some mysterious way.”

The Sufi poet Rumi said, “The wound is the place where light enters you.” I suggest that every day in 2023, we look for signs of God and His love. For some, God is in that butterfly on a flower. For others, God is that funny-shaped cloud or a song from the radio. I see God almost every day. And I celebrate such moments. 

Since God doesn’t want us to drown in hatred, we must force ourselves forward. As such, finding God daily makes me think about the hatred our current world suffers and how we can process our differences differently. And it makes me more hopeful—that we are not alone [should we have the courage to choose]. 

In 2023, remember that God is in me, just as He is in you. So that’s where He is now. We’re living representatives of God, and we are representatives of peace. So, in 2023, let’s act like it.