Pick up any newspaper and you will find reports of increasing hunger and homelessness. (famvin reported a couple of days ago that 9.1 million people died of starvation in 2008.) Talk to anyone associated with food banks or other organizations providing charitable goods and services and you will hear of the increasing difficulty of meeting the needs of the least among us. Food donations are drastically down, as are donations of toys to be distributed to needy children on Christmas and blankets and warm clothes for those without heated homes (or, indeed, without any homes at all). At the same time, the demand for services has risen.
At the beginning of Advent, famvin posted the Advent message of Greg Gay, C.M., Superior General of the Vincentians. The theme of his message was the line from Luke’s Gospel, “And there was no room for them” and the message invited reflection on Jesus’ solidarity with the poor and marginalized. A young Vincentian Lay Missionary, who is spending this Christmas in Ehtiopia where she is currently stationed, wrote this reflection on the theme of Fr. Gay’s letter:
Though I’ve heard the Nativity story countless times, rarely have I paused to consider this phrase as it relates to the true meaning of Christmas. What does it mean on Christmas, in our world today, in my life, that Jesus was born into and lived a life among the rejected, the outcasts, the unwanted? When I am preparing for Christmas, I don’t know that I have ever paused during the frenzy to consider those I have told, “Sorry, there is no room for you in my life….I know all too often I have been one of those innkeepers turning away the Holy Family.
How can I keep expanding my heart and never post a ‘no vacancy’ sign?
A question all of us should ask ourselves as we approach our Christmas Eve festivities tonight and our Christmas Day celebrations tomorrow. For many of us that will include lots of good food and the giving and receiving of presents, in an environment of warmth and good cheer. As we enjoy all we have, how have we supported the Holy Family in their time of need?