In the past two Christmases, God’s love and glory is made real to me in two surprising ways.
Last Christmas, I met God. Rather, I received an epiphany – God’s revelation through a migrant man. Let me call him Miguel. I met Miguel at a homeless shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, a day after he was deported. He entered the US twenty-two years ago by walking along the San Diego beach and simply crossed the border. He found honest living as car mechanic, eventually owning a body shop and providing for his wife and two beautiful daughters. One day, he was accosted by the police and was immediately deported for not having immigration papers. He told me of his plans to reenter the country as soon as he could. I asked if he understood the great risk of being caught and branded a criminal, never to have any chance of entering the US again. He looked at me, with tears swelling up his reddened eyes, and said: “I have to do it. I want to be with my family. They are my home.” Looking at his teary eyes, I encountered God. It struck me that God embraces a similar risk to be with you and me, willing to pay the cost to be with us whom God loves.
This Christmas, God is revealed through the death of my young cousin Thy. She knew the risks of opting for an experimental treatment that could accelerate her demise. Yet, she embraced them, because she wanted her young boys to have the best chance of having a healthy mother; she wanted her husband to have the best chance of a healthy wife. She chose life and what she deemed best for her family, even as her own life was slipping away. In her death, I encounter Christ who sacrificed to give his best for those he loves. It’s been almost a month since her passing, and her husband had this to share, “Thy is so beautiful and very much with the boys and I every moment.”
Today, we celebrate a love born in the crib and continue to the cross. Jesus, Word of God, Who is God, became one of us. He built his house next to ours, lived among us, suffered with us, for us, and to save us. He came as a child, a poor child, born in a humble manger. He came to be with us, to sacrifice for us because he loves us. In Miguel, God reveals to me a love willing to accept all costs to be with those God loves. In my cousin Thy, Christ is revealed as love beyond tragic loss and death. When we look at a person who is poor (or migrant), who loves, who forgives, who sacrifices genuinely, we see God. This is the glory of God’s humility. The light of God’s love.
What if God wants to surprise us in humble and unexpected ways, revealing Godself in the least of those we interact during these festive days? What if God desires to encounter us in our poverty and humility?
p.s. – Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve Homily is worth taking a look for prayer and reflection.