Advent Week 4: Joy Amid Challenges

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” – Matthew 1: 23

Nubia Torres, left, Director of Immigration Legal Services
Nubia Torres, left, Director of Immigration Legal Services, pictured with Most Rev. Edward Burns, Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, center. 

In the fourth week of Advent, we are nearing the joy of the celebration of Christmas, the birth of the Christ-child.

In Jesus’ day, those who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah expected great fanfare at his coming: wealth, power, and obvious outward signs that this is the one they had been waiting for. In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we are reminded that the coming of Christ happened through the most unexpected and ordinary of circumstances — through the birth of a child to a poor young woman.

Nubia Torres is the director of Immigration Legal Services at Catholic Charities Dallas. As a fully accredited Department of Justice legal representative, she has been working in immigration law for over 10 years.

“This past year has been a difficult one,” Torres reflected. “We had several unexpected populations of people who needed our help — Afghans, Ukrainians, Venezuelans they literally have arrived at our doors and knocked, seeking our aid. We have worked hard to find the resources to keep the door open to them, to respond to their needs.”

She remarked on how the community has rallied to welcome these unexpected arrivals. “We have really had to go the extra mile, to work together as a community to respond. It has required answering needs that are unconventional for us. We’re not just providing legal services but coordinating with others to provide food and housing as well. We want to make these families feel like they are not burdens but a blessing for our communities.”

Torres remarked how glad she was to see that some leaders in her area, including the local bishop, Rev. Edward Burns, have embraced the call to welcome the stranger amid these particularly hard circumstances. “Leaders showing with their actions what welcome looks like — that gives me hope.”

In the end, Torres noted that it is not the complex cases or the grand, few-and-far-between moments of policy breakthrough that keep her going in the work, but the small and incremental wins she sees in the immigration legal work that can make an enormous difference in the lives of her clients.

“Seeing someone able to get a driver’s license and drive without fear, or get a green card that leads to living wage, or someone able to get citizenship… these things change people’s lives, and they drive me to keep going in the work,” says Torres. While the incremental wins can get lost in the grand scheme of broken policy and backlogs, Torres explained that these joyful victories are what propel them forward.

In this fourth week of Advent, as we reflect on the year and the joy of Christmas, we can recall how Christ’s birth models the often-quiet movement of God — how victory, joy and light can be found in people or events that are unexpected and understated.

For many of the most meaningful parts of life, and in the work of immigration justice, one has to peer closer to see the meaning. Seemingly ordinary victories can be the most transformative, like the birth of a child two thousand years ago.

Questions for reflection:

  1. What ordinary victories have inspired you in your life and work?
  2. What motivates you to believe in the triumph of love and justice?

This reflection is part of CLINIC's 2022 Advent reflection guide. Click here to download the full guide.