Crazy about Christmas with ACMI

  • Jan 03, 2023

Participants enjoyed icebreaker games and dances at the start of the day to build community. Carmelite Brother Benedict Mary who is on pastoral attachment with ACMI also joined in the fun. Photo: ACMI.

Amidst the busyness and challenges of life, the true meaning of Christmas often gets drowned out. For some of our migrant brothers and sisters, this could be their first Christmas away from home; for others, it could have been years since they saw their loved ones due to the pandemic. Jesus, Himself once a migrant in Egypt, must have faced similar struggles and challenges.

In our effort to journey with migrants through Jesus’ story, the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI) held an Advent Day of Recollection for them themed Crazy about Christmas: Falling in love with Baby Jesus AGAIN! conducted by Franciscan Friar Derrick Yap OFM and ACMI’s Spiritual Director, Friar Francisco Jude Basnayake OFM.

Fra Derrick leading the reflection sessions. Photo: ACMI.

Falling in love with Jesus again

In the sessions, Fra Derrick pointed out, in our fast-moving world of instant gratification, we may sometimes form a distorted definition of God, for example, when we pray for something and do not receive it right away, we think God is unfair. Fra Derrick invited us to purify our image of God by going back to the beginning when Jesus was born, showing a painting depicting St Francis of Assisi recreating the manger scene of Christ’s birth in a cave in Greccio, Italy.

He said even in our disordered, sinful state, the Lord wants to wash us clean and gives us the courage to remain pure if we allow Him to. Jesus came down from heaven to earth to show us the way through His self-emptying and humility, from His birth in a lowly manger to His eventual death on the cross. Despite our trials, we can be joyful and hopeful because God is by our side.

During the recollection, participants contemplated Lee Kowling’s ‘Greccio’. Photo: Evangelyn Ding.

Reflecting on the bright star in the painting, Fra Derrick reminded us of the star which the Magi followed. “The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with His mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did Him homage.” (Matthew 2:10-11)

This represented their desire to seek God and to know God. We too are called to keep desiring Him despite our circumstances and believe that the Lord wants to be with us.

Hope reborn

Participants were then asked to pen their thoughts, emotions and what stood out to them. Alternatively, they could colour a Nativity scene or one of the Magi as a form of contemplation. The day concluded with a Mass celebrated by Fra Francisco.

The main takeaway from the Recollection for Madel Segundo Donglawen was to trust in the Lord and submit to Him, realising that He is making miracles in her life. She shared, “Life is full of waiting and expecting. We may even lose hope and lose our faith in God. But what we do not know is that God is already doing what we are asking for. He only wants what is best for us. So, do not lose hope, God is always there for us!”

We at ACMI have the enduring faith and hope that our migrant brothers and sisters know that they are not alone during this Christmas season and beyond. We invite all of them to join us on Jan 8, 2023 at 2.15pm at Agape Village for a time of community building, fun and Breaking of the Word. We are also planning a Lent Recollection for Migrants.

Published on Catholic News on Dec 25, 2022.