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Today we begin Advent. In Mexico and certain parts of Latin America there is an advent tradition called posada. The word “posada” means lodging. In the posada tradition children re-enact Mary and Joseph searching for a place to stay in Bethehem. They knock on different doors and are told there is no room. At the very last home the Holy Family are recognized and given a place to stay – the children enter and a party is held inside. Now the custom is not historically correct – after all no one welcomed Mary and Joseph, Jesus was born with the animals– but it does represent our spiritual sentiments during this season of Advent – we want to welcome Jesus Mary and Joseph – we want to make sure that Jesus is received with love on December 25th.
Jesus needs a home. Why does he need a home? He is God. He has a home in heaven. Why would he choose to enter our world?
We could offer many answers – he came to die on the cross and save us from our sins, he came to show us the love of God the Father, to preach good news, to teach us, to encourage us. Above all, he loves us and we want to be close to the people we love. Jesus needs a home because he wants to be close to us.
In the fall we celebrated our 40th anniversary as a parish. As part of that celebration we created a video which included interviews with our parishioners. That video is still available on the front page of our website. Please take a look if you have not already. In the video, one theme that stands out in particular again and again is that parishioners described the parish not just as God’s home, but as their “home”. Our parish council decided to use this image to to describe our parish’s mission – “We have been called by God to create a spiritual home for all God’s children living in our community” Our parish is a home. But not just for you – not just for me – but for everyone. In Advent we prepare a home for Jesus. But let us also prepare a home for his family. May our parish be a place where people are freed from their sins, where they see the face of God, where they learn and grow, where they hear good news, where they become a family.
It is a huge understatement to say that the majority of people living in our community have no connection whatsoever with our parish. Many of them don’t even know we exist. Yet, Jesus wants to make his home with them – just as much as he wanted to make his home of earth 2000 year ago. The friendly and helpful neighbour that belongs to another religion or perhaps no religion at all. Those born Catholic, but are so busy with work, school, family, sports, volunteering that they feel simply run out of time for God or church. Those who stopped coming to church because someone was unkind to them. Those who love Jesus but don’t feel like they need the Church. Jesus loves them and wants to be close to them. He died for their sins as much as our. They need the goods news as much as we do. How do make our parish their home?
In the end, on Christmas day, Jesus was not alone. He was visited by the shepherds. But the shepherds were not just waiting around at the manger looking for Mary and Joseph to show up. They came, because they were invited – they heard the good news announced by the angels. This Christmas, good news will be announced from our pulpit – every Sunday good news is announced – but it does not reach the majority of people in our community. They need to be invited. They need to be welcomed. I would like to challenge our parishioners this year to be like the angels, to welcome your friends and family to the parish at Christmas to meet the newborn king. On an average Sunday probably less than 10% of Christians attend services – at Christmas it is almost 50%. This is the time of year they are most likely to say “yes” to your invitation.
Jesus needs a home. God’s children need a home. At St. Michael’s parish, we have been called by God to create a spiritual home for all his children living in our community. This is our mission. During the next three weeks of Advent we will reflect in more detail what it means to create a spiritual home for God’s children. During this advent we will create a home for Jesus – we will create a home for God’s children.