Around Christmas time in 1994, two young missionaries found themselves teaching religion to a group of boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in an orphanage in Moscow.
Many of the kids had never heard of the story of Christmas. So these two young missionaries spoke about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem, and how finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.
Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, they gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from some yellow napkins. No colored paper was available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt they had brought from the States.
The orphans were busy assembling their manger as the missionaries walked among them to see if they needed any help. Here the missionary continues : “All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat – he looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.
” For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately – until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha made up his own ending to the story as he said, ‘And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had, that maybe, I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.’
So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?”
And Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.” “So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him—for always.”
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. At last, the little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him – FOR ALWAYS.”
Many times in life we have been betrayed.
Many times in life we have been abused, physically or emotionally.
God became man so that we may find someone who will NEVER mistreat us, will never dump us. Someone who will be with us for always…
His name is Jesus.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.