Step 2: Make Personal Connections


Tucked into the story of Baby Jesus, born in a manager, far away from home, are stories about people who experienced a compassionate encounter with others; an encounter that spoke to their hearts that motivated them to respond in a way that led them to find Jesus.

In El Paso, TX we find today’s Christmas stories in the lives of Maryknoll Missioners and the refugees they accompany. Like the stories we know from Jesus’ birth they too are driven by a stirring in their hearts, which leads them to encounters with Jesus in the lives of those they accompany.

The three kings, guided by a star, travelled great distances to encounter the baby King born in a manger. Maryknoll Lay Missioner Coralis also felt a tug in her heart and changed her retirement plans. She was leaving Kenya after 19 years of working in Africa and making the long journey home when the story of a father and daughter who drowned in the river at the US border laid heavy on her heart. Like the star that guided the three kings she felt something guiding her to El Paso, to the Maryknoll Family called by their faith to respond to the desperate need of migrants and border communities.

The innkeeper was moved with compassion. He probably saw the weariness and anguish of a husband and an expectant mother, and understood what they had gone through to get as far as they did. He had no room at the inn but he offered Mary and Joseph a barn they could use for the night. Annunciation House and its network of shelters and helpers does the same for weary refugees with no place to go. Like the innkeeper, Maryknoll Sisters Leilia, Janet, and Margaret with Lay Missioner Deborah open the door, welcome travelers in, and help provide them with food, shelter, and a chance to connect with relatives in the U.S. Heidi, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, offers legal services. She understands the desperation that drives people to take the big step of leaving their home and country.

The angels shared the good news of the baby king’s birth, not with dignitaries or royalty, but with the lowly shepherds isolated in the field, tending their flock. Sr. Margaret Sierra who understands the isolation refugees feel, accompanies them and gives them dignity with work at a sewing cooperative. Fr. Moody is a Maryknoll Priest who ministers in a poor, dusty town on the banks of the Rio Grande River. David, a person in Fr. Moody’s church described the work of the Missioners in one word, “love” – just like the love given and received by the one born in the manger and those who travelled to pay homage (Follow
this link to read Maryknoll’s work with refugees at the border).

DISCUSS and REFLECT on the following questions:

  1. Share a time when, like the innkeeper, you welcomed someone into your home, a friend group, or somewhere else in your life.
  2. Describe a time when, like the three kings and Coralis, you went out of your way to learn or discover something important.
  3. Sr. Margaret understands the isolation the refugees experience. Why do you think they feel isolated? What questions would you like to ask them to learn more about why they feel this way?.



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