Nine days before Christmas, the Christian community where I live takes part in what they call the “Posada.” It’s an annual tradition of faith practice among the Mexican people here, remembering the time when Joseph and Mary went looking for an inn where she could give birth to Jesus Christ.
During those nine days I usually participated with our parishioners for the Posada in the Corpus Christi parish, in Rancho Anapra, Juarez, Mexico. I was really touched by the words of the song sung during the ceremony. We travel to one house each night over nine nights. At each house, one group was outside holding the “Peregrino” which is the statue of Mary on the donkey with St. Joseph. The group inside responded to their request singing a song, and the pair are recognized and allowed to enter.
When the people sang: “Mi esposa es Maria, es la Reina del cielo y Madre va a ser del Divino Verbo” (“My Wife is Maria, she is the Queen of Heaven and Mother of the Divine Word”) I was really touched, that these were the words that St. Joseph spoke while searching for a place where Jesus would be born. I learned to see and honor St. Joseph for being the guardian of the Word.
On the eighth day of the Posada, the people asked me to hold the peregrine statue and lead the group to knock at the door. I saw the crowd following me. I looked at the peregrine statue I was holding, and I was reminded that this is the way I am invited to journey with the people here in Rancho Anapra, to be open, to be part of their family and to journey with them, placing the holy family as the center of our lives and our families. My journey with the people is joyful and life giving. I feel the peace to be able to look beyond my little faith.
In silence I prayed that in our journey of faith together, we will open our hearts to allow Jesus to lead our lives always. I believe that it is when we really feel the inner peace within us, then we will be able to share the peace of the Lord Jesus to one another. This beautiful faith tradition of the Posada has become for me, a way of entrusting to the Holy Family the protection of all the people and their beloved families, especially the migrants who are fleeing from their countries be-cause of violence, war, injustice, discrimination, and poverty. It is the reality we live in today.
In reflecting on this symbolic faith journey with the Mexican people, I came to a deeper awareness that within me is a space where the Lord Jesus wants to dwell. I asked myself then, how often do I open my heart to listen and feel Jesus’ presence in me, in the innermost depth of my being?
After several years working in Mexico, Columban lay missionary Sainaina Tamatawale recently accepted an appointment to the Columban Lay Mission leadership team in Hong Kong.
The Meaning of Posada
Posada is a Spanish word meaning lodging, or accommodations, which in this case refers to the inn from the Nativity story. It uses the plural form as the celebration lasts for a nine-day interval (called the novena) during the Christmas season, which represents the nine-month pregnancy of Mary, the mother of Christ Jesus.