By Marlon Bobier Vargas SVD
Not too long ago, we began the Advent season. Now it’s almost Christmas! The celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus. With our hearts, minds, and spirits, we prepared ourselves for Christ so that we may be able to welcome Him with joy.
Christ is our hope at this moment when we are bombarded with social conflicts, injustices and violence. That gift especially struck me during Advent Sunday Masses at the Special Religious Education Development (SPRED) center, a community of people with developmental disabilities.
I found myself deeply moved by the participation of my friends from SPRED in the offertory and preparation of the gifts at Mass. Despite their limitations, my friends participated and engaged in the Eucharistic celebration.
A father and son walked together to the sanctuary. They slowly and patiently placed a purple linen on the altar table. A prayer pleading to Christ to cover our broken world with his mercy and love.
A mother and son went to the altar, carrying a lit candle. The divine light that we need to dispel the darkness in our society.
A mother and daughter brought a vase of beautiful flowers to the altar. A prayer to restore the beauty of creation so that we all may enjoy the nature that God has given us.
A family of four offered the bread to the table. An act that reminds all that the family that prays—asking God for their daily bread amid hunger, poverty, and daily struggle—stays together.
Then, another family walked to the altar, carrying the wine to be blessed and shared. A symbolic prayer of a family who sought Jesus to quench their thirst for loving protection against pain, depression, and spiritual crisis.
The way each person performed his or her task in the liturgy was touching. My friends didn’t let their intellectual and physical limitations hinder their participation in the celebration. They fulfilled their assigned roles with dedication and reverence.
People in the pews stayed still in awe. Each of us allowed ourselves to be immersed in silence. Our silence became our encounter with the sacred presence of Christ among us.
Sacred silence filled the assembly and radiated like the light of Christ. A sacred silence that gives joy and hope.
God became human on a silent night so that we could hear and feel His coming. His birth was not announced with loud sounds but rather through the beating of our hearts. God sent His son in the middle of darkness because Christ dispels darkness and illuminates our lives with his unconditional love.
The mystery of God becoming human is the source of grace that leads us to humility and trust. We must admit that we cannot make our world a better place by our own efforts.
We can only see God because God wills it. God wants to make our hearts anew by filling them with gratitude and hope. We need Christ’s presence in our hearts. I noticed that my friends’ relationships with Christ empower them and give them profound joy despite their disabilities.
Like my friends, we need a deeper, stronger and closer relationship with Christ. Christmas is our opportunity to renew our relationship with Christ. It is a grace-filled season that invites us to restore our way of life according to Christ’s love.
It is a time to silence our hearts from the noise of our secular world. It is the season that urges us to listen to Christ and respond to His invitation to rest in our hearts.
We can only attain the lasting joy that Christmas gives us if we proclaim and live out the teachings of Christ in our daily lives. Let us share in Christ’s birth by living in his light. Let us accept our brokenness, incompleteness and wounds.
Let us be like the shepherds who glorify and praise God for all the things they heard and saw at Jesus’ birth. His coming to be with us is the Good News! Let us share the love of Christ this Christmas!