Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As we enter this new year many opportunities for our faith and pastoral activities rooted in Faith and prayer open up in front of us. At the same time we remember that we are still in the season of the Nativity of the Lord. The Scriptures for the Liturgy in these days certainly call to mind many journeys of Faith: those of the Magi, following the Star to the Christ Child, and Mary and Joseph and Jesus themselves, fleeing their home for safety from King Herod. These accounts from the Word of God are certainly worth reflecting on as our ministry continues with so many immigrant families from all over the world.
On a personal and related note, I had the blessing of celebrating the “Posadas” with over three thousand people at the Christ Cathedral Campus on December 20th. The following week, I was able to pray and walk the neighborhoods of Santa Ana with a group of families also celebrating the Posadas. Afterward the children re-enacted the Birth of Christ to a great crowd of families. The “Posada” is a shelter which Mary and Joseph were seeking prior to the birth of Christ. It is a great prayerful and catechetical event (actually a Christmas “Novena”) that has been handed down to generations of Hispanic families in Mexico, Latin America and now here. The Faith comes alive in the singing, prayer and celebration of all of the families gathered for this event. At the conclusion of this Posada celebration, the families gave me a “Chivas Guadalajara” scarf for the winter, which was recently noticed when I passed through Dallas-Fort Worth airport! The journey of the Holy Family reflects the journey of so many of our immigrant families who come to us in Faith in the midst of their challenges and difficulties. Their living Faith in the midst of all of this should inspire all of us to live our Faith more fully and understand truly that the word “Emmanuel” means “God is here.”
As National Migration Week will soon be upon us, and as CLINIC works to respond in Faith to the needs of so many families, and especially in the patient and dedicated work of obtaining visas for religious and pastoral workers, I would like to conclude this reflection with some words from Archbishop Gomez in his book Immigrants and the Next America: “Jesus said ‘I was a stranger.’ He did not distinguish between legal and Illegal. In fact, he pushed us to find him in those who are the most distressing to us – including strangers and criminals in jail. And we need to remember that he was uncompromising on this point. In the evening of our lives, our love for God will be judged by our love for him in the person of the least among us.”
From myself and all at CLINIC, a very blessed 2014 and thank you for all that you do on behalf of so many families.
View more pictures from the Posada celebrations in Santa Ana, California and at the Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, California
*The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann is Bishop of Orange and the Chair of CLINIC’s Board of Directors.