The Christmas before last, someone had donated the money for a Santa suit for me to bring to Chontal when I visited. The Santa gig was a bit hit, but more than anything there was another $15 investment that took home the prize: fake snow. I bought some fake snow powder that I just happened to come across in a trinket shop in downtown Boston. Mix it with some water, and voila. But it wasn’t just the kids who loved, everyone loved it. And everyone wanted to know: how did you make the snow? I always answer the same: the faith of the kids.
When I arrived at Chontal this December for the Christmas novena, I found out some devastating news: four of the children in the school, all relatives, had recently committed suicide. When I was able to go to the school and find out who the kids were, get a copy of their pictures, and talk to the teachers, I cried. And I didn’t know what to expect from the school or the community, because there was no joy left. But even more, the teachers and the students wanted me to dress up as Santa again this year, for the Christmas program that was a few days away. I said to the teachers, but the kids already know it’s me, there’s no more surprise. They said the kids want it anyway. How could I say no? But I also thought, how could I come out there in a jolly red suit, ringing a bell and saying Merry Christmas? There was no healing yet, everybody was still stunned and grieving. So I told the teachers my idea.
I brought a lot of fake snow this year because everyone loved the gag when I did it last year. We made snow out of water. So this year I brought more. I decided that I would do a little introduction once I arrived on scene, and I would use the water and the snow for a symbol and memorial. I said, “I need two full barrels of water for tomorrow. Have them placed by the nativity scene and Christmas tree.” So when the end of the program came around, it was my time to come out in front of everyone, and I had a little speech prepared (in my Spanish Santa voice!). I told the people that in the North Pole we shared in all their celebrations and tears throughout the year, and that I asked the elves to collect all the tears from the angels into the buckets. And now we’re going to make snow from the water. And just as the snow falls from the sky to the earth, the snow will be a symbol that those who are dear to us in heaven are here with us for Christmas.
So after I gave the short reflection with kids trying to climb all over me, I made my way over to the nativity scene and the Christmas tree and there I mixed the snow powder into the buckets of water. We made a line for the kids so each one of them could touch the snow, grab a handful, and throw it onto the Christmas decorations. And so one by one, each of the kids came through, grabbing a fistful and throwing it onto the tree. And then something happened.
One of the kids, instead of throwing his snow onto the tree, threw it at a teacher. And then another kid did the same. And then a teacher grabbed some snow and threw it at another teacher. In a matter of a few seconds, a snow fight was breaking it, and a few of the kids grabbed some snow and ran back to throw it on the parents.
Fun broke out. Joy was back.
It was like those kids were there.
A few days later, I asked some kids what they liked best about the Christmas program at school. They all said together, “The snow!”
When he writes his Gospel, John makes a connection between water and Jesus’ miracles in the Spirit. There’s the first miracle where Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding, after everyone has run out. When Jesus brings a sick boy back from the point of death, John mentions it’s in the same place where the water became wine. There’s the woman at the well of water, where a whole town converts because of one outcast woman. There’s the sick man who is miraculously healed at the Sheep Pool, and did you know that in John’s Gospel, the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish is at the Sea of Galilee? Jesus miraculously walks on water, and when he is going to heal the man blind from birth, he send him to the pool of Siloam. He washes his disciples’ feet at the miracle of the Eucharist, and in his own death, water comes out of his heart.
But these aren’t his biggest miracles. The two biggest miracles are the raising from the dead. When Lazarus is brought back from the dead, when Jesus rises from the dead, here’s the question: where is the water? If the water is so important, and these are the most important miracles, there should be the most important water of all, shouldn’t there? Where is the water, then? There’s no well, there’s no sea, no Jordan River, no pool, no foot basin.
Ah, but it’s there. John put it there.
It’s the tears.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping … Jesus wept. (Jn 11:33,35) Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. (Jn 20:11)
Tears are the most important water to God.
When you’ve run out of joy in life, remember that your tears are very powerful.
God can work his greatest miracles with them, He can turn them into something special, even bring back from the dead.
Your tears are very, very valuable.
They are the most important water to God.