Dear friends,

because he is not really wanted anywhere, Mr. C. comes to sleep every night to our church, where he puts up in a small room. Very often we find him disoriented and in different arrays of outfits; unshaven and smelly, too. The house, we, the Jesuit Community, live in, has just been renovated and sparkles white and clean. So it came, that one evening we were taken aback, when Mr. C. suddenly stuck his head into our common room on the 2nd floor, reminding us, that we need to unlock for him the room at the church.

Surely you remember the story of the poor Lazarus, laying at the door-step of the rich man (Luke, 16: 19 - 31). Year after year he was right there, sick and impoverished and the rich man would not take any notice of him, he was not even touched by his misery.

What do we do, then? If poor man Lazarus and his brothers and sisters, all poor, do no longer contend themselves laying at our door-steps, but just enter into our house? When they peer into our comfort and start questioning us about our wealth? What then? Or if they just break down our locked doors, our protective walls? Unheard of? Boldly, unashamed? We may be shaken.

The picture I chose for this Christmas may appear strange to you. A child, naked (or a man?), black, holding a shepherd's crozier, crowned by the stars of the universe and surrounded by floods of waters. Is this to be a Christmas picture? Yes, it is!

May be Christmas 2007 our God made human, Christ Jesus, wants us to recognize him in the many African boat refugees, who try to escape hunger, misery, endless wars, lack of medical facilities, exploitation and failed harvests. They wash ashore in Greece, Malta, Italy, Spain, just at our European "door-step". And they come hungry, disheartened, freezing ... some have drowned and some bodies are bloated in death. However, they risked everything just to find something which was better than that from where they had came from.

No doubt, they are the poor. While they suffer, some few exploit the mineral wealth of Africa: small cliques who are supported in their greed by western or eastern big brother countries. The poor only are forgotten.

Refugees are human people. They may live illegally in European countries, but they are as humans not "illegal". Migration always existed. Some of my ancestors left Germany at the beginning of the 20th century to settle in the United States of America, because the economic situation at home was precarious. Were they "economic refugees"?

My Christmas this year will be "black": the plight of the refugees cries out to me and has me concerned. In the poor, Christ is born to us; in the poor we encounter him. At the same time he is the Lord of the Universe, he tends to our sorrows, he shepherds the whole of humanity. In this, he gives us an example. That is why he carries the crozier of a shepherd. Stars make his crown: a vulnerable, poor and yet glorious king!

He created us out of nothing: water and minerals form most of our body and of nature. Life is "in flow", yet a fragile gift. But the Lord, our eternal shepherd, wants to guide us; he wants to lead us to green pastures and to fresh, live-giving waters. Where it is good for us to be.

Let us not forget the refugees; wishing you a "black" Christmas
and the bountiful grace of our God made human

Wolf Zanorashe Schmidt S. J.