by Sr. Genevieve van Waesberghe MMM           Ireland             16.12.2022

God, our Emmanuel is always coming, often in surprising ways to heal us and give us new life.

It was in our small counselling center where we accompanied single women traumatized by years of conflicts. Their children too were victims. Many were sent away from school as the mothers were unable to pay the school fees or because, unable to concentrate on their studies, they often they had antisocial misbehaviors.  Each year, before Christmas, we had a live Christmas crib. Children would volunteer to take part in it. That particular year, one boy wanted to be ‘Joseph’. He was notorious for his difficulties at school, we were surprised by his request but welcomed it.

The day came, all dressed up accordingly. Each one was quite serious about his/her role. But as the play went on, our Joseph did not exactly behave as the Joseph in the Gospel. He was quite mischievous and creative in his ways. We watched and, at times, could not help but have a good laugh!

Years went by. I had been assigned to another country but one day got a chance to return to visit the staff of the Counselling Center.
A young man was helping in the garden. The old watchman man asked if I remembered him. I went to greet him and to my great surprise, discovered that he was ‘our Joseph’, a fine young adult and now a third-year medical student, doing well. He was spending time in the garden to get some pocket money! I did not ask him if he remembered the Christmas play.

Recently I heard that ‘Joseph’ was now qualified and helping the sick, mothers and children. I pray that St Joseph that he once tried to impersonate guide him in his healing ministry especially to those most vulnerable. I thank God for Joseph and his mother. He certainly suffered much but I know that through his pains he learned compassion.

In the many areas of Africa affected by wars and conflicts, I have seen miracles among those we attended: widows, orphans, former child soldiers, etc. Their lives have been transformed and in turn they are helping others.

It is just amazing how it happens when we are truly present to others, in a simple and humble way, thus allowing the God-with-us, our Emmanuel to work in unexpected ways. It can be through a kind word, action, or may be …a Christmas play! Nothing magic. It is all very ordinary and human. This is the meaning of Incarnation.

Today, amidst uncertain times, let us be watchful that we may not miss our Emmanuel coming in the ordinariness of life, to give us hope, heal and renew our hearts and all creation.