3rd Sunday of Advent 2021

Each Sunday of Advent, a Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary community member will offer a reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading. We hope the work of our community is edifying for you as we prepare ourselves for Christ's coming.

Gaudete Sunday

Luke 3:10-18

One Christmas, many moons ago, I was in Tijuana, Mexico, with my maternal aunts; the only Christmas I have spent without my parents. That Christmas, I had one gift under the tree with my name on it, a pair of socks. I remember my teenaged self feeling strange celebrating Christmas with nothing to claim under a lit-up tree other than a pair of socks.  

I grew up in California with my immediate family. Christmas presents were never extravagant in my childhood home, but we would always have all the latest knick-knacks from the local dollar store wrapped underneath the Christmas tree. A border has separated my immediate family from all extended family my entire existence. As a citizen of this country, I had the privilege to live a bicultural existence during my youth that freely let me roam my mother country of Mexico during most school breaks.  

My privilege also, and most importantly, allowed me to be a courier of sorts delivering gift packages to our relatives in Mexico on behalf of my parents. Gift packages included anything our family still loved but could part with, in the spirit of, as we read in the Gospel according to Luke, "Don't collect any more than you are required to." We didn't have the luxury to collect much growing up, but my siblings and I knew that a t-shirt we did not wear in the States would be loved and cared for by our cousins across the border.    

This advent season, my family and I are full of joy after receiving the most extravagant gift possible to a family like ours: that both of my parents are now residents of the United States. Their immigration status has led to a chronic fear of deportation and living a life of continued patience for what could come. As I write this, my mother is visiting her mother, my grandmother, after more than thirty years of not being able to be held in her arms. My mother and father journeyed for thirty-two hours on a bus to a rural town in Nayarit, Mexico. This time, they were the gift couriers. 

Before my parents' journey, my son and I went into his playroom and picked out some of his favorite toys to be given to our extended family. My son was not happy. But, I recited, "anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same." Thanks to the power of technology, my son and I watched cousins play with the puzzles and eat snacks that I know we take for granted during our day-to-day lives. In that instant, without words, my son grasped a truth that may otherwise have taken him a lifetime to encounter, and I was a witness to that good message. 

This piece was written by Cindy Gonzalez, Master of Arts in Ministry alumna '19