How A Child Saved My Life

“Does not Christ see in our ugliness, in our impoverished lives, in our festering sores, in our crippled souls- does he not see there his own divine image and a reflection of his eternal glory and eternal beauty? And so he will return to the churches and bring with him all those who he has summoned to the wedding feast, has gathered from the highways, the poor and the maimed, prostitutes and sinners.”

– Maria Skobtsova of Paris, Nun and Martyr

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God comes to us in many guises, often disguised, and sometimes, baffling and many times, unwelcomed. God did so to me in a guise of a little poor boy.

Right after seminary, I did not pursue the call to the priesthood immediately even though there was nothing more that I wanted to be than a priest. I thought first of becoming an academic, a scholar of early church history because that would certainly add prestige. That was the state of my soul filled with hubris. Yet, it was not without hesitation, perhaps because I felt that an academic life might remove me from the struggles of common humanity.

I remember going home to the Philippines around Christmastime of 1992 because my sister was getting married. I remember that one day, while sitting in a bus, I was really struggling with my decision (or perhaps the lack of firmness with it). My rumination was suddenly interrupted by shrieks of people while the bus came to an abrupt halt. It turned out that a young homeless boy, a beggar, perhaps no older than three, half-naked, wearing only an oversized t-shirt with no shorts and pants, quite dirty, jumped in front of the bus. Thank goodness the driver was able to stop the bus in time before he hit the boy. When all the commotion had died down, all I could see was a little boy with a tamborine, unrattled, singing a song about the birth of a beautiful poor boy of two thousand years past, the Baby Jesus, who would bring joy and redemption.

On that day, God appeared to me in the guise of that beggar boy to bring clarity, vision and meaning into my life. Life would only have purpose if it were lived in solidarity with those who are struggling in life. It was that little boy who got me into social work school, and in my career as a social worker working with the homeless, the mentally ill and those living with HIV/AIDS before my ordination.  Indeed, God comes to us in unexpected ways.


©2018 Noel E. Bordador

Noel Bordador is a queer Episcopal priest in the Philippines. He runs Nazareth House, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality for persons with HIV/AIDS in Manila.

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