In the midst of wishing others a happy and prosperous New Year, we often overlook some of the more important things that we should wish for others, like blessings of love, joy, peace, unity in the family, forgiveness, and awareness of God’s miracles in our lives.
Over the holidays I received a short sharing from a BCBP brother, Chito C. Del Castillo, of BCBP Bulacan. He tells about a Christmas miracle in their family several years ago that brought them to the realization that forgiveness and unconditional love were the true gifts of Christmas to them that year, and that these gifts must be treasured among all members of the family throughout the years. This is Chito’s story.
“It was in mid-December 2006 when we went home past ten in the evening after our BCBP assembly when we learned that our 18-year-old daughter was missing. Our brothers and sisters in community helped us look for her in our village. The security guards hadn’t noticed her leaving the village. The following day we reported the matter to the police and asked their help to find our daughter. We contacted her friends, classmates, and close relatives. No one had seen or heard from her. Our days and nights were spent in prayer, searching, and crying.
“Exactly five days later, a couple from the squatters area nearby our village brought our daughter back to us. Our hearts jumped with joy and we forgave her for the anguish she had given us. We thanked the couple profusely and gave them some money. It seems our daughter had lived with them for four nights to hide from us due to some misunderstanding. It was there that she experienced the harsh realities of life living in the middle of that squatters’ area with that family who had six children. Their daily meal was a can of sardines, or a piece of dried fish, or sometimes just salt and rice. They all slept in a cramped small room, like fish in a can of sardines.
“We thought the story ended there, but, no, the Lord wanted to make sure we clearly got His message of forgiveness and unconditional love. A week after the incident, our BCBP community decided to have a caroling in the squatters’ area; the plan was that we would sing, pray with them, and give them some gifts and groceries. A group was assigned to search for the poorest of the poor family to receive our Christmas blessings.
“As a gesture of thanksgiving for having our daughter reinstated in our family, we decided to join the caroling. On that Christmas night, we entered the squatters’ area and followed the assigned guide group to locate the family where we would carol and share our gifts. We passed through many small dark and dirty routes until we arrived at a small, cramped house with a couple and their six children. Our daughter began crying as she embraced the couple.
“Wonder of wonders, God had led the assigned group to the very couple who had given refuge to our daughter! It was a miracle because our community only knew that our daughter had returned; they had no knowledge of where she had been or stayed. It was a very touching reunion, the couple was crying, our daughter was crying, and me, I could hardly hold back my tears, too. Even our brothers and sisters in community who were with us couldn’t help but feel the love in that place and shed a tear or two.
“We sang for them, prayed for them, and gave them gifts that they so greatly deserved. We realized then that their small house would collapse due to the weight of our group so some members had to stay outside and join the singing from outside the house. We thanked them again for our daughter, for taking care of her in her distress.
“We shall always remember that Christmas as a time of miracles: our daughter was restored to us, our family experienced heartfelt forgiveness and the power of unconditional love, our daughter realized how lucky she is and how good God was, and is, to her. And this was just the beginning of greater harmony in our family, for in the following year 2007, we joined the BCBP Family Encounter, and in the 2008 FE were blessed to become one of the serving families.”
Yes, brothers and sisters, miracles do happen today! Everyday God manifests himself to us. We just need to open our eyes and our hearts to see, hear, and experience these everyday epiphanies.