A Christmas Story

betlehem_starFor the Christmas Mass at Dawn, a group of Migrant Workers presently in Israel decided to walk to Bethlehem from Jerusalem. While they walked they talked about various personal experiences of what is going on in their own countries and in Jerusalem. Their conversation went something like this:

In Brazil there is big problem of human trafficking, mostly women and children.

Also in Guatemala the situation is very challenging. Many people illegally migrate to the U.S. in order to look for better jobs. This situation affects their families terribly.

Israel also is full of Migrant Workers, who are here illegally. Along with that, the anti-Semitism around the world is a great concern for all the Jews and Christian Jewish interfaith groups.

In Egypt there is so much poverty, and education is very basic, and people are so preoccupied about earning enough, that they maintain two or three jobs just to be able to feed their families.

This is the sad reality today. You know in the Philippines, corruption and human rights violations are increasing.

As they were listening to one another, one of them spontaneously said that millions of people around the world are celebrating Christmas – the coming of Jesus to be one of us and to reveal the all-encompassing love of God for all people, but it seems that Christmas becomes an occasion to promote consumerism and materialism. With that, silence descended on the whole group, as they approached the checkpoint near Bethlehem. Then suddenly their attention shifted.

One said: I think I forgot to bring my passport.
Another responded: Oh no, double-check in your pockets and in your bag.
No, I don’t have it.
What we will do now?
Guys, don’t worry, I heard that no arrests are made at Christmas. So let’s calm down; we are already at the checkpoint.

Border Police coming on duty exchanged big smiles and wished each other Shalom, Peace, Salam, Paz, Kapayapaan … and even wished us “Hag Sameah! Merry Christmas!” and waved us off.

You could hear a big sigh of relief in the group of Migrants –all was well, and seemed to end peacefully, thanks to the kindness of the border patrol. The conversation continued as the group left the checkpoint …

They were saying to one another that this is what Christmas is all about: welcoming and treating strangers kindly and with respect. After all, God is with us, and no doubt with the border police too!

The group continued their journey. When they reached Manger Square, joy and gratitude filled their hearts. One of them said, “Here we are at the Church of the Nativity; let’s light a candle and say a prayer of thanksgiving and petition. And so they did …

The Migrants’ prayer:

Jesus, we thank you first of all for being here and for being able to celebrate this Christmas in the place where you were born; secondly for the blessings we have received from you; thirdly for being able to recognize goodness in the midst of the chaos, violence, injustice, sufferings, pain, difficulties and death that we see in our world, and in the society in which we are now living, and in our own countries. In spite of that we are here, trying to make things right. We pray for peace in the world, especially here and in our own countries. We also remember our families, friends and love ones. We pray for an end to violence and injustice around the world. May your peace and love reign in our world, and may we always recognize your coming in our lives. Amen.

And then they held hands and sang Silent Night.

written by the Novitiate community