Editor’s Note: On this fifteenth day of our Advent blog series “Hidden Joys,” DC Service Corps volunteer Christopher Zaragoza reflects on what it means to be pilgrims on earth.
Advent is a time of reflection, meditation, and prayer. The Church gives us this season as an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the first coming of Christ in Bethlehem and his second coming at the end of time. Despite the busyness and stress that stems from Holiday preparations, we are reminded to take a deep breath and to remember what is truly important. The key is to have in mind that we have no lasting home here but rather in heaven, where we shall be united with the source of love for all eternity.
Christ himself knew that he did not have a lasting home here on Earth and that he would return to the house of his father. For this reason, he spread the message of love not only with words but with deeds as well. Jesus encounters the most marginalized and forgotten of society to emphasize that these individuals also belong at His Father’s Home. Whether rich, poor, white, brown, Catholic, or Protestant, we are all human beings and death is a reality that we shall face sooner or later.
Growing up in a Mexican household, we often heard different songs in Spanish. My dad has a favorite song that speaks about how at the end, you shall not take the material things of this life with you. Our older relatives would often remind us that we are just pilgrims in this world, journeying to our real home which is being in the presence of God. They often point out that we choose whether we shall do acts of love and kindness on our journey. We can often feel as though it is impossible to do acts of love and kindness when we encounter evil in this world. Yet, Christ serves as an example that it is possible.
As I am temporarily in Washington, DC for a year of service, I am able to see that acts of love and kindness are possible. These past months I have had the opportunity to serve at the Father McKenna Center as a Case Manager. I help men who are experiencing homelessness to get the proper resources that they need. These men have been a blessing in my life for they have made me laugh, cry, and provided me with wisdom. In encountering them I have encountered the source of love which is God.
Let us not forget that we are just pilgrims on this earth striving for heaven but, in the meanwhile, we can foretaste it through encountering our brethren through acts of love and kindness. This Advent, let us avoid trying to find God in material things but rather in the man experiencing homelessness in the street or in the immigrant. We are on this journey together. May this Christmas be a foreshadow of paradise.