Matthew 25: 35-36: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
Some of my favorite Christmas memories involve welcoming friends over for a Christmas party. In the Friend home, we’ve thrown some pretty big Christmas parties in the past. The parties were so large, in fact, that my children were somewhat annoyed with me for inviting so many people. But my intention behind the party was always “the more the merrier”. My goal was to fill our home with love and friends and share our family’s love for the season with those who touch our lives. I wanted to let our guests know that they are important to us. I wanted to let them know that they hold a special place in our lives and in our hearts. That’s the love that I believe that God wants for our families and our parish communities this Christmas.
Each year, Christmas Masses at our parishes are packed with visitors, giving us a great evangelization opportunity. These services are a celebration of the birth of Christ and offer us the chance to welcome the stranger just like Mary and Joseph experienced from the Inn Keeper. Everyone in our parish has the opportunity to play a role and become an ambassador for Christ this Christmas.
Let’s not get annoyed that someone is sitting in our seat this Christmas. Let’s turn and smile to the people around us at Mass and welcome them.
Try not to sit at the end of the pew so that people need to climb over you to find a seat. Sit in the middle of the pew so that visitors can easily find a seat.
We have the opportunity to be the signs and symbols of Christ and talk with people after Mass. Let’s not bulldoze our way out of the parking lot so that we can get home a little faster.
We all know that the Catholic Church of America has had a very difficult year. Soon we will begin 2019 with new hope and many challenges. The way we begin to advance our Church is by welcoming the stranger and welcoming those who are returning to Mass. We need to be the Inn Keepers, welcoming back the lost who are seeking Christ this Christmas.
We want to fill our parishes with a love for Christ and share that love with those who are in our community and beyond. Let your guests know that they are important to you. Let them know that they hold a special place in your parish and in your heart. Let’s have a real celebration at Mass, a Christmas Party that everyone will remember. We all have a mission this Christmas. Welcome the stranger, build community. Make their experience memorable. There has never been a more important time for evangelization, and everyone has a part to play.
Have a wonderful Christmas! Now, let’s get to work!
American Magazine “How parishes can turn ‘Christmas Catholics’ into regular Massgoers”
Denver Catholic: “How to welcome Christmas Catholics”
Continue the conversation. How do you make visitors feel welcome at Christmas?