Juan was a tiny eight-year-old boy in a little Mexican town quite untouched by any other influences. In its simpleness and poverty, time had stood still for 100 years. Juan was one of the town’s orphans. He had lived on the streets as long as he could remember and had no memory of how he came to be there. The church with the convent next door was where he could be found more often than not. The nuns saw to his basic needs as best they could. They shared meager rations of food with him and left the door of the church unlocked on cold nights.
The season of Advent was Juan’s favorite time of year, because the church was so magnificent with its candles and crèche on the altar. Inside those four walls, he felt embraced by light and warmth and security, but he also felt the mystery of God’s presence, which gave him a sense of the only love and peace he knew.
On Christmas Eve, one of the sisters invited
him to join the other children of the town in the traditional processional as they brought gifts to the Christ Child. Juan’s joy at being included was soon replaced by sadness at the realization that he had nothing to bring as a traditional gift to present the baby. All day he thought and prayed and not long before the service was to begin, he found a piece of paper and made his gift.
The processional began. The infant Jesus was laid in the manger on the altar and the children presented their gifts of fruit, flowers, and sweets. Last of all Juan walked up to the Nativity and laid in the manger the piece of paper he had found and fashioned into a paper doll.
The next day a kindly nun asked Juan about his gift. This was his story: “Sister there are many nights that I am cold and alone. I had no gift to bring to Christ, so I made myself from a piece of paper and thought I would just lie next to the Baby to keep Him warm.”
The old nun with tears in her eyes said, “Juan, you truly gave to Christ the best of all gifts. You gave him yourself, all that you are. You gave Him your heart.”
Christmas is a time for gifts. I do not believe that God who created all things is impressed with any grand gift we could give Him, but I know God is overjoyed when we offer Him our hearts.
Reflection – What must I do to truly give God my heart, all of who I am?
- Christmas Greetings! (centralumchurch.wordpress.com)