Every year on Christmas Day, the youth of La Luz, our Holy Cross parish in Guadalupe, Mexico, throw a party for the children from the poorest section of the parish. These are children who dwell in houses made of cardboard, tar paper, and perhaps a bit of tin for a roof. They live on dirt floors, walk dusty roads, and gather water from a common spigot. The celebration at the church is their only Christmas party. It is the only time that they receive any presents.
The parish youth do a remarkable job with this event, from planning the puppet Christmas story to going door-to-door to round up all of the children in the neighborhood on Christmas morning. Time and time again, during my years as pastor there, I was inspired by their example. They share their faith with great joy as they attend to the needs of their younger brothers and sisters in Christ.
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But, what touched me even more, and what I remember to this day, is one six-year-old girl. She left the party carrying many things in her arms. Just outside the church gate, however, she passed a four-year-old standing alone in the street. After walking about ten steps past him, the girl wheeled around and ran straight back to the little child. She then slowly took some of the candy that she was carrying and gave it to him, then one of her presents, a balloon, and some more candy. I couldn’t believe it. She then simply turned around and literally skipped away down the street, back to her desperately poor neighborhood. That six-year-old girl models for all of us that the real gift in life, our true privilege, is to give abundantly as we have received.
This reflection for Christmas was written by Fr. Pete Logsdon, C.S.C., who after many years serving in the Holy Cross community in Mexico is currently working as the Assistant Superior of Holy Cross House, which is the medical care and retirement facility of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers. It originally appeared in the revised edition of The Cross, Our Only Hope, available from Ave Maria Press.