Every Christmas Day, I join the Salesian Cooperators and young people in giving joy to hundreds of children through gift giving. This year has been no exception. More than 400 children and their families received gift packs of rice, canned goods and toys. They were also treated with a delightful breakfast thanks to the generosity of sponsors and benefactors who have been supportive in making this program a reality annually.
It is inspiring to see both young and adults come together in a spirit of generosity and service in preparing for this yearly Share-A-Gift Project. The event involves a series of preparation: packing of bundles of joy, cooking of breakfast, organizing games and program for the children, the distribution of the gifts and the clean up at the end. The occasion is a hands-on experience for young people to reach out in the spirit of sharing. It teaches them selflessness. It is tiring but we all feel a sense of joy when we see children bringing home something for Christmas. Children say “thank you ang babait ninyo!” as they receive their gift pack. The thought that we have made them smile made me feel good.
On second thought, it should have been me thanking them. The children have given us more than we have given them. We have given them only a little bundle of joy. But they have reminded us that every child is an image of Jesus today. Those poor children reminded us to find Jesus in them. They moved us to actually see Jesus in them. Jesus, too, was a poor little baby lying in a manger.
When Jesus was born very few recognized him as the Son of God. He came in silence and obscurity in a small town of Bethlehem. Though a long prophetic tradition foretold his birth, only humble shepherds recognized that he was actually the Promised One. He was revealed only to them.
The sign of a star showed the world that somebody big had come. The heavens proclaimed it loudest such that the magi read and understood its meaning. Moved by its outstanding brightness, they crossed deserts just to pay homage to a newborn King of Israel. The star was God’s way of leading them to find Jesus, the star of their lives.
Until today, the image of the baby Jesus in the crib is a powerful reminder that God made himself weak so that we can find him. He already made himself so available that all we need to do is a little effort to meet him half-way. God has already come down to our level. As Pope Francis said: “God is humble. We, who are proud, full of vanity, and who think ourselves great stuff, we are nothing. He is the great one: he is humble and he makes himself a child.”
This year has been declared as the Year of the Eucharist and the Year of the Family. God’s humility is even more evident in the Eucharist. He further makes himself small. As a baby he was helpless; in the Eucharist he is hidden. As a baby he was crying for our attention; in the Eucharist he is calling for our faith. As a baby he craved to be love; in the Eucharist Jesus challenges us to love him.
The magi were courageous to follow the star. Every year we are invited to be like the magi to be courageous journeyers. We have to continually seek the star of our lives in Jesus. He alone can give us joy and meaning. In finding Him, he makes us experience the Father’s merciful love.
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