I love the celebration of Christmas. It is an opportunity for the Church to look like it could and should look like every weekend of the year: the parking lot is full, the sanctuary is packed full of people, everyone dresses in their best as they come to worship as a community. I see Christmas Mass as a glimpse into what our Church could look like every single week of the year. This is exciting to me. I literally can’t wipe the smile off of my face on Christmas Eve.
Do I get frustrated with having to arrive at Mass an hour early? Of course, I do. Do I get frustrated by getting squeezed into a pew, or worse yet, not having a seat for Mass? Of course, I do. However, this is a glimpse of how our Church can look if more people were engaged in our mission which is why I am excited. This is a realization of Christ’s dream for the Church, a Church bursting at the seams, a Church that can’t wait to go out and change the world at the conclusion of Mass. I pray that someday the Catholic Church is as full and alive as it is on Christmas every single weekend of the year.
A friend of mine, the late Fr. Dan Hohman, co-authored a book called Radical Hospitality. In that book, he writes “Real hospitality isn’t about what we do—it’s about who we are.” If we truly love our Church, and I know that each one of us who makes attending Church part of our weekly journey with Christ, loves the Church, then we can’t help but want to share it with others. We all have loved ones that we wish attended Mass more regularly, and more importantly, had a deep-seated relationship with Christ. We all know of someone who has fallen asleep in their faith, that we pray has an awakening in their faith life. Let’s allow the challenge of radical behavior that we hear from John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, influence our journey to Christmas. Let’s agree to be as hospitable as possible to our Christmas guests. Let’s offer our warm smiles to every person we encounter and intentionally make our guests feel that they are not only welcomed here but NEEDED here. Let’s agree to welcome our guests in radical ways, so that they may be further invited into the life of our parish.
Let’s show our guests who we really are this Christmas and show that we are willing to radically witness our love for Christ by our radical acts of hospitality. In doing so, I am confident that we can make all of our guests know that they belong.