3rd Sunday of Advent - Year C - 16th December 2018
A little boy at school, so the story goes, was very keen to play the part of St Joseph. However, his teacher felt that his strength of character was more suited to that of inn-keeper. He eventually accepted the role but not without a little resentment. All he had to do was respond to Mary and Joseph as they knocked on the inn door, declare that there was no room at the inn and then shut the door cruelly in their faces. However this budding nativity play-actor had other ideas. So, on the night of the nativity play, as Mary and Joseph knocked on the door, he opened it, took a kindly look at them both and said: "Oh, do come in, you are very welcome!" Not only did he collapse the play but, in real life, he could have changed the whole Christmas scene and, indeed, our Salvation history!
It's all about homecoming
Everything at Christmas is about home-coming of returning to home and health, of family reunions, of being united with friends whom you may not have seen in one of more years. For this reason, everyone who comes in the door of our church this Christmas is most welcome. If you have not been here for a year or, indeed, more, you are most welcome - that is always the message of Jesus who leaves the ninety-nine and goes after the one.
The Shut-ins and excluded
Forty years ago, I remember people who found themselves confined to their homes being described in what seems such uncaring terms aa the "shut-ins". Do remember them also.
A remembering Church
Our Church is not an exclusive club. Of course, we will not always get it right - many will have memories of what they did when they did not feel welcome. We do apologise. You may have a genuine excuse for wishing to exclude yourself but as some wag once said, 'just because you fall out with your barman, that is not reason enough to give up drink!'
So welcome home. Do spread the word. All are welcome in this place. It is a welcome-inn!
Adeste, figeles, Laeti triumphantes, Venite, venite in Bethlehem! Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant; Oh come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem.
There will be room at the inn but just about - so do, please, be patient. It's Christmastime!
Fr. Michael McCullagh C.M.