It is interesting to remember that the Holy Family was travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted in a census when Jesus was born, but because of the crowds “there was no room for them in the inn.” After Herod became threatened when he heard from the magi that there was a newborn king, they left their homeland and went to Egypt until the danger passed. We hear so much about migrants and refugees these days, not only those from Central American countries who seek a better life and safety in this country, but this is happening all over the world. Recently there was a worldwide meeting of Franciscan Friars with representatives from every Province and country. One of the “signs of the times” that was noticed was this great movement of peoples. Because of the Hebrews’ experience of slavery and exile, the Bible is filled with passages that encourage a spirit of welcome: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:34) This is a prayer from the US Bishops:
Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God's family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.
Lord Jesus, help us by your grace,
· To banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;
· To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs;
· To realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice;
· To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;
· To give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.
We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
In a similar vein, often at Christmas we welcome people who don’t often come to Mass during the rest of the year. Also as people travel to visit family and friends, they may find their way to our parish. The Archdiocese is asking all parishes to provide an “unusually gracious hospitality” to all who come to worship this Christmas, in the hopes that those who are not regular churchgoers will feel so welcomed that they want to return again. I ask all of us to be welcoming and hospitable this Christmas to all who come to worship here, even if they take your usual parking spot or pew! Please welcome our guests!
I have just become aware that on Monday, January 21, the Martin Luther King holiday, there is a Peace Walk of 1 mile, beginning at Hope Methodist Church at 9:30 AM, and ending with a program at the Southfield Civic Center Pavilion at 11:00 AM. I am wondering if we might be able to gather a group from our parish. Please let me know.