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Day 9: Born


Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! On this ninth day of our Advent and Christmas blog series “His Light Would Not Go Out,” DC Service Corps volunteer Sam Goodyear uses the birth of Christ to reflect on the miracle of birth itself.

The season is winter, and many Christians around the world have spent weeks prior in anticipation of December 25th: the day of Jesus’ birth.

And while this event is the true spirit of the Christmas season, and Jesus’ birth the reason for the celebration of Christmas Day, it is no surprise that this spirit has been largely overlooked if not entirely forgotten in the modern world. Consumerism is prevalent, with corporations promoting the idea that one should accumulate material possessions of all kinds, largely beyond our needs. Despite religious intentions, this season can be one of particular distractions, shying away from what is known in the Catholic Church: that the pregnancy of Mary was a miracle, and thus, the birth of Jesus, Son of God, was a miracle.

I do not think this reflection is one of particular uniqueness, though. What I do find to be even-more largely overlooked, if not dismissed entirely, is the miracle of life and birth in and of itself, for all of us.

About 1 in 400 trillion. That’s how many chances there are that a person is born, scientists estimate.  Today, I am 23 (and a half, for those who also celebrate half birthdays) years old, or 8,541 days old.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining not only one’s chances of being born, but additionally their life expectancy, including: a person’s overall health, geographical circumstances of where a person grew up (including political, economic, and physical climate), biological factors passed down through family lineage, environmental factors (from whom the person has the ability to spend time with to the types of activities that make up their daily life), and of course, pure chance of staying alive each day. This is not an exhaustive list, and each one of these factors can be infinitely broken up into several more categories.

When pausing and reflecting on each and every one of those factors, I think about how blessed I am. I am not blessed because every one of those factors is perfect for me, but because despite whatever the specific odds of my existence may be, I was born here, and I have made it through every single day since then. I have managed to, and have been lucky enough to, sustain the miracle of my life, 8,541 times over—in a row! I don’t know what the odds are of something occurring 8,541 times in a row, but I imagine it would be that number, multiplied by the one in four trillion plus odds of me being born, in order to determine the odds that I am alive today and able to write this piece.

To whomever reads this: I may or may not know you, but I am grateful that you are here. That you, too, were blessed with the miracle of birth. I hope that you may have the opportunity and ability to continue on, keeping that miracle alive.

As we celebrate the birth and life of Jesus, let us celebrate our own too, and how beautiful it is that life on earth has continued on this far. And while we are here, soon to enter another calendar year, let us be reborn in whatever ways necessary to use the gift of this life in the best ways possible.

Question for reflection: Jesus’s birth was a miracle. In this season of Christmas, how can you celebrate the gift of his life and the gift of yours? How might God be calling you to be reborn with Christ this Christmas?

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Sam Goodyear serves a Protection Counselor for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). She is originally from New Jersey and graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a degree in sociology and international relations. Sam is passionate about advocacy and activism regarding human rights, especially regarding marginalized communities, and was drawn to Franciscan Mission Service's similar values. In her free time, she enjoys doing outdoor activities, traveling, relaxing at local coffee shops, experiencing new art, and meeting new people.