The Sign Remains the Same
Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)
A few days ago, I was invited to share about the saddest Christmas I had experienced. The memory that came to me was from when I was nine years old. As I was remembering that experience, I was emotionally and physically feeling the sadness and pain I felt then.
During this Advent, we heard reflections from different voices reflecting on how many children around the world are living under fear and facing danger, abuse, family separation, destruction, and consequently deep sadness. These children are marked by these experiences forever, and they will likely become adults that will have to deal with these memories over and over again. Before this reality, we, the Church, have a huge opportunity in front of us.
The Church can become the space where these children find relief from the psychological, biological, social, and spiritual impact they are experiencing. In addition, the Church can become the space for adults who had these experiences as children and now need healing in order for them to live fully.
Luke’s account reminds us of the message of Christmas delivered by the angel: “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke: 2:10-12)
Children living in distress and adults living with open wounds created by traumatic experiences need to hear these good news. Notice that the sign mentioned by the angel was “a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” The sign remains the same, we can find Jesus in every rejected children around the world. Thus, we need to pay attention where these children are. In 1997, before Bishop Carcaño was elected as bishop, she offered the following list of examples of children living in distress. Sadly, this list is still truthful:
• We say we love children yet we accept homelessness for thousands of children across this nation;
• We say we care about children yet our child poverty rate is among the highest in the developed world;
• We say we defend the rights of children yet every day U.S. born children are deported, thrown out of this country to insecure places because of the immigration status of their parents;
• We say children are the most precious thing in our lives, yet every night we allow [thousands] of them to walk our streets in prostitution;
• We say children are the priority in our society, yet mothers have to fight for maternity leave to nurse and nurture those children in those critical first months of life, and paternity leave is almost unheard of.
This list along with the reflections we heard about children impacted by different circumstances around the world, should be a reminder for us, that as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Messiah, the King of the World, we really need to take care of all children of the world. Especially those children who are escaping poverty and violence, those children who are afraid because they were separated from their parents, those children who live in war and conflict zones, those children for whom there is no room in any place.
May the child wrapped in bands of cloth for who there was no room in the inn find room in our hearts. May this Christmas be an opportunity for us to make room in our hearts to all the children around the world who need to hear the good news that salvation comes from a child born in a manger. May all of us experience a renewal of hearts and minds as Jesus rebirths again within us. Amen.
— Ismael Ruiz-Millán