By Ricardo J. Márquez, PhD
Will there still be faith on earth at the end of time? Will there still be people who practice compassion and justice? Will there be peace among nations?
Christmas is the right time to explore these questions. Christian tradition reminds us that this is the time to recognize the singular event that was the Incarnation, and the historic presence of “God among us,” made of flesh and bones.
This was something radically new, impossible to imagine. But what is impossible for us is possible for God the Creator, who became human in the womb of Mary, the woman who made the greatest leap of faith in saying yes to that mystery and offering Him to us.
No business, marketing, music or electronic device can eliminate this radical experience of faith that lives within countless human beings across the world. It can be obscured, concealed, but never extinguished. There will always be people who have lived and experienced the grace of feeling the love and presence of Jesus, of Emmanuel, of “God with us.”
That’s why the future of the faith and of believers will rest with those who have seen with their own eyes, felt with their own senses, and walked along the Lord’s footprints; those whose experience has been so personal, intimate and profound that no trend, no fame, no money, no one and nothing, can separate them from the experience of feeling loved by God. I don’t just believe because someone told me this happened; I communicate it, I proclaim it because I have lived it, and the mystery has seduced me.
Scripture tells us: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David, a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).
The sign to recognize Him is simple, humble and routine: an infant wrapped in diapers. It’s so simple that complicated minds get tangled up and don’t see Him. Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see the spark of God in creation, in all people, everywhere.
We have received the “Good News”: We are here in this life to recognize each other as the image of God, to use our will to do good and to create human fraternity, to feel the joy of loving and being loved, and to remind us that death does not have the final word, that our final destiny is a life that endures. The road we take will always rest in the decisions we make.
Today, I renew my sense of hope and prepare my “interior manger” in this season of Advent. Today, I celebrate and proclaim with gratitude all of the people that I have met in the different parishes and lay ministries of this diocese, who gather every week to pray and form themselves; people who embrace and spread love, who visit jails and hospitals, and who support just laws and reforms.
All of them are beings of light who sustain and care for the life that has been gifted to us; all of them give “birth” to Jesus in people, homes and the world. All of them have sustained and strengthened my faith and hope. Blessed are those who become a living Christmas, sharing their love and service, proclaiming that God is among us.
Ricardo J. Márquez, PhD, is associate director of the Diocese of San Diego’s Office for Family Life and Spirituality.