Recently during Advent our family hosted what the kids named Blessed is She Advent kids’ club. We invited my son’s classmates to join us in doing the Blessed is She Advent kids’ journal on Sundays. We were already going to do it as a family, so what was another couple of kids? I had no idea what this would look like or what it would be like, as I had never attempted anything like this before. To be honest, I was extremely hesitant to follow through with this idea because I didn’t want to be judged for the way our house looked or the fact that it’s not an HGTV-looking home. As I worked through these insecurities and remembered the reason why we were doing this, though, the apprehension slowly went away.
A Gift to Kids and Parents
All four Sundays during Advent the parents of my son’s classmates were extremely kind and warm. They took turns bringing snacks, good snacks, too (you know, the kind that adults get to enjoy as well). My insecurities and hesitations were quickly filled with gratitude at the outpouring we received for hosting.
Parents who I normally would not have had an opportunity to interact with or hadn’t met before went from being so and so’s parents to actually having names. The resistance I built in welcoming new faces into our household helped me see that although I may fare well in the hospitality department, I could still work towards welcoming those who I may not know as well as my inner circle.
A Lesson on Welcoming Strangers Through the Holy Family
The wise men have always been a mystery to me. They heard Jesus had been born and wanted to pay him homage (see Matthew 2:2).
When I picture myself in this scene it plays out very differently than how Our Blessed Mother responded. If strangers (or even relatives) come to our house unannounced, you know I am running up the stairs with the baby and making my husband handle it!
When I am holding a newborn and recovering from birth I’m not the type of person that welcomes anyone dropping by. Postpartum me and unexpected visitors just don’t bode well together. I don’t even like receiving an Amazon delivery because it means the doorbell will ring.
Our Blessed Mother, on the other hand, didn’t refrain from welcoming the wise men. She didn’t demand any explanation from them or shoo them away. There was no peep hole to look through and tell Joseph to handle it (unlike I would).
There isn’t much written about the dialogue between the wise men and the Holy Family but we can gauge how these strangers were welcomed:
…and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. // Matthew 2:11
Our Blessed Mother witnessed the reverence these unknown men had toward her son and she didn’t need further explaining. There were no further introductions needed.
Perhaps this is why Our Blessed Mother didn’t feel threatened by them. These perfect strangers through their presence potentially affirmed for Mary what she already knew about her son.
Her fiat was firm in all things and all circumstances—even in this scenario.
These strange men didn’t just pass by; they went further by offering gifts. They weren’t required to, but who wouldn’t travel this far without bringing gifts fit for a King?
They also didn’t share with Mary that they were warned to go a different way; they simply did it without causing alarm. What a gift another person’s foresight can be, even when we don’t know that person is looking out for us.
Welcoming Strangers Like Kids Do
Over the course of the last couple of years my kids have shared stories of their best friends. Best friends who I had never met before and had only known by name. They shared stories of games they played when their school was continuing to be cautious against COVID, like shadow tag (instead of tagging someone on the shoulder, you tag someone’s shadow with your foot). They never had to go into their best friend’s home to know, welcome, or meet them where they are.
Their innocence is a vessel of welcome because they haven’t been corrupted by the world. Their welcome for another person is real and unfiltered. They don’t size someone up before they can spend time with them. I see what a difference it makes in trying to live this way as an adult. When you have a heart for others you don’t know—like kids do—the walls come down sooner and you can receive the joy of getting to know someone else with sheer delight.
In today’s culture it has to be the right time or the right season to welcome someone into our home. We have to go to coffee dates, play dates, and even out to dinner before we allow people into our home.
Every stranger who knocks on our door is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the foreigner who has been accepted or rejected in every age (cf. Mt 25:35-43). // Pope Francis
Your Home is a Place of Encounter
Our home is the most vulnerable place where we can invite others and maybe that’s a bit scary sometimes, because we want to keep people at a surface level. We worry that we won’t be regarded as highly if we let people in. Maybe it’s too much of a risk some of us aren’t willing to make.
The wise men didn’t enter a physical structure but a place of encounter with Jesus Himself.
We are all looking for a welcoming place. We see that every Sunday when we congregate for after-Mass donuts or attend other social events at our local parish. None of us want to stay strangers, but sometimes we do have to take the first step in being inviting. It takes a lot of prayer, courage, and forgetfulness of self, but look at the magi and how they became the first to welcome the King of Kings.
Let’s be the first to welcome and host, because it is Jesus Whom we are ultimately inviting.
Scripture Verses To Pray With
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? // Matthew 25:38
Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. // Romans 15:7
Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. // Hebrews 13: 1-2
Be hospitable to one another without complaining. // 1 Peter 4:9
More on the Epiphany
Just in case you need a refresher on today’s feast day, here are two worthy blog posts for you to read:On the Epiphany and Welcoming Strangers #BISblog // -->> CLICK TO TWEET