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Christmas Letter 2013

Christmas – Fritz Eichenberg

Dear Friends,

The spirit of Christmas – Jesus being born poor in a stable – is an indomitable force, despite the efforts of consumerism. The poor tell us “that God chose his Son to be born like the rest of us so that we can realize that we are important.” But Jesus and Christmas belong to all of us to help us to see Jesus in others, so we can avoid the indictment of Dorothy Day: “Those who cannot see the face of Christ in the poor are atheists indeed.”

The Gift of Christmas – the Faith of Christmas – is central to our lives. It reminds us of why we are here working with the poor, not to receive “presents,” but to be “presents” to the many homeless or sick people who come to us, looking for room in the inn.

We need not express regret that we did not live at the time of Jesus, so that we could have found a room for the Christ child. The Infant Jesus and his Mother frequently come to Casa Juan Diego in the guise of the poor.

Our hardest work remains hospitality. There are always many guests in our various houses of hospitality and when you house people you house their problems. We are powerless to control giving birth, disagreements, broken eardrums, seizures, drinking, or people fainting. Daily and nightly we are at the mercy of the human condition. But hospitality is empowerment, especially for battered women. We even house immigrants, those monumental scapegoats of modern politicians.

We are sitting ducks for agencies, since we don’t have a lot of rules for serving the poor, always the first fruits of agency life. Hospitals, police, women’s shelters, schools, and United Way agencies call us daily to receive immigrants who are homeless and/or battered; people with broken legs, shot in the leg or no legs, beaten people, people with little babies, pregnant women that nobody wants. Our phone rings off the hook with request for help with the sick, the injured, the paralyzed, the mentally ill, to help with funeral services for the deceased. The entrance of our house is frequently full of people in wheel chairs.

Our other work continues. We distribute food (thanks to the Houston Food Bank and you all) which provides hundreds of thousands of meals each year. Our medical clinics continue to serve many patients and provide medicine.

Without people who celebrate Christmas each year – and some each month – Casa Juan Diego would be incapable of so many works of mercy. We are writing not to brag, but to beg. We need you in order to celebrate Christmas again.

Could you help us keep going for another year? We and the poor would be very grateful – and for your prayers, too. God knows we need them.

May the peace that comes to those who care about children born in stables be yours.

Gratefully in Christ,

Mark and Louise Zwick and all at Casa Juan Diego