Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Reflection: Receiving & Opening Gifts

“And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us … from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace ..." - Jn 1:14, 16

I was given a great gift since last Christmas. I am blessed to experience God’s first love. That is, to experience God in poverty, in God’s poor. It did not occur to me a few days ago that this gift has been unfolding in my life since, throughout 2010. I find the homily I shared last year still rings true in my life:

“Today we celebrate what is most important to our faith. No other religion believes that God, creator of heaven and earth became human like us. Jesus, Word of God, Who is God, became human – one of us. He built his house next to ours, lived among us, ate like us, suffered with us, for us, to save us. He came as a child, a poor child, born in a manger, poor and humble. To a poor family. To serve and give his life because he loved us. God is in love with us. Like people who love, God wants to be one with us whom He loves …

God in Jesus came to all. But only those who are poor in spirit - who are humble, peacemakers, merciful, open - will see him. And live in his radiant light. For others, it will be just another Christmas vacation. When we accept Jesus poor and humble, our lives will change … Our Catholic faith is most special: when we look at a person who is poor, who loves, who forgives, we see God. God who is poor, who loves, who forgives. God chooses to show God’s light most clearly through human beings, through you and me. Through us who are poor, weak, and sinful. This is the glory of God’s humility. The light of God’s love.”

In our family reflection last night before we opened our gifts, my brother-in-law shared that he has been given such great gifts in his life (in his wife, parents-in-law, and our extended family). But in this hectic pace of life, he does not always know how to receive such gifts. Then he prayed for the grace to be able to more fully receive and open these gifts.

What he shared struck me. I am very blessed to live among God’s poor, in a Jesuit Community near Dolores Mission Parish in Boyle Heights where I am unfamiliar with Hispanic culture and inarticulate in Spanish. I am blessed to have an office at Loyola Marymount University, too small for my assistant and co-partner. I am blessed to serve such a diverse population of people stretching from Arizona to Alaska, including Houston and Munich. I am blessed to struggle through several relationships with people I serve. I am being stretched beyond my boundaries; I had to face my own poverty – my limitations and helplessness – for poverty comes in many forms. Through these encounters with poverty, I am experiencing God’s first love in deeper layers. I am invited to open and receive this gift in a greater way, for “from Christ’s fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace …”

Join me, in this season of gifts to spend time to serve and visit God’s poor. Let us embrace our own poverty. Let us open our gifts, however strangely shaped and wrapped. Let them unfold deeper.

May you rediscover the child Jesus who comes to you in small and humble forms and be blessed, through your family, with deeper peace and joy … grace upon grace!

How are you I receiving and opening our gifts this Season, as strangely wrapped and packaged as they may be?

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