By Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes
One of the greatest gifts I received from my parents was their example of hospitality and charity when it came to people in need. It was not uncommon for my dad to bring home someone from my Boyle Heights neighborhood who needed something to eat or a place to rest. My mother was always there with a warm welcome. As we reflect during this season on the story of our Lord’s birth, you could say that my folks took the lesson of Las Posadas to heart. There was certainly room at their inn.
Many years later when they came to San Antonio for my ordination to the priesthood, that spirit of hospitality was returned to them beautifully. It was Christmas time and they were given such a welcome upon their arrival that I remember my mother saying that she felt she had truly experienced Las Posadas, herself. It was God’s poetry.
Some of us are blessed to have an “inn”—the means to provide something to a brother or sister in need. Others, like the Holy Family, are desperately in search of a room – a place to rest and take sustenance on a difficult journey. In either case, we all have a part in the story of how God came to be among us. “For today in the city of David a savior has been born who is Messiah and Lord (Lk 2:11).
As a diocese we celebrate hospitality as one of our four core values. In this season of giving and as we continue to observe the Year of Faith I invite you to pray and reflect on our call to be welcoming and to, as Jesus commanded, love our neighbor as ourselves.
Christmas is a time where we show hospitality by giving each other gifts and celebrating with family and friends. Though it has been 2012 years and we are surely living in a different world, the “Christmas Spirit” of today is a continuation of the hope and joy that was felt at the miraculous birth of Jesus, God’s promise of salvation made manifest in human form. The story of Las Posadas, the one that my parents so faithfully lived, is that we are called by God to open our homes and hearts to the other, the stranger, the unlikely one. It is in doing this that we show our gratitude to God for the many blessings he has provided us.
Let that be a seed that grows within us in 2013 as we continue to live the Year of Faith.
I offer you my deepest prayers and blessings for a joyous Christmas season. Let us all accept the gift of hope that God gives us in the birth of his Son. May your family and friends enjoy good health and prosperity in the New Year. And may God bless you in your journey of faith.
PUBLISHED IN THE DECEMBER 2012-JANUARY 2013 INLAND CATHOLIC BYTE