I had just turned seven and we were living in a hotel in the center of Madrid while waiting for our apartment to be ready. My mother, older sister and I spoke a total of two words in Spanish: “no comprendo” which means: I don’t understand. We had discovered that it normally took about three repetitions before people understood that those were the only words we knew and started communicating via pointing and gestures. We were struggling with feeling uprooted and not being able to communicate, much less fit in.
Now, it was almost Halloween and my sister and I wanted to know what we were going to dress up as and where we were going “trick or treating.” We didn’t care or understand that they didn’t celebrate Halloween in Spain. We wanted what we knew.
There were a couple other American families in the same hotel. The parents got together, figured out something to use for costumes, and arranged that we would go from room to room trick or treat to help ease our angst. I remember prancing through the lobby while the other guests looked at us with confusion and my parents tried to explain the tradition.
Halloween is over for this year, but pictures of children and adults in costumes are still circulating. Some costumes are of princesses and super heroes and cute animals, and some are of scary and evil characters. The choice of costume displays something about who each person is and what they want to be.
We all wear costumes every day, putting forward an image to the world that we want them to see. We do this with the clothes we choose, the words we use, and the actions we take. The question is whether we are using this costume to pretend to be something we are not, or to reflect the person we are now and the person we striving to become. God put on a costume once, too. He put on a human body and came and lived among us. The difference? He accepted this costume to reach us in a way that we could understand and to show us another way to live. Ironically, instead of hiding God’s identity, this costume revealed who God is. Jesus reveals to us the great love, and power, and mercy and justice and forgiveness and humility of the one and only glorious majestic King of the Universe.
What costume are you going to put on today?