What is the warmest welcome you have ever received?
Mine was when I traveled to Hawaii to train youth ministers on four separate islands. On each island I was given omiyages, gifts that can range from flower lea to a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts (yes, please!). Regardless of the specific gift, you know how joyful a native Hawaiian is to welcome you because of the omiyages. On this trip I received so many omiyages I had to purchase an additional large suitcase to take them home.
All of us have been to a home, church, or community where we have been welcomed so genuinely that our actual hearts felt embraced.
At the same time, we have walked into a home, church, or community and felt like an inconvenience. Both experiences leave a lasting impression. The question is, what impression do we want our sisters and brothers in Christ to be left with after they enter our homes (or churches)?
Oh, how I wish our Church would follow the words of Saint Paul to Philemon, "[W]elcome him (Onesimus) as you would me" (Philemon 1:17). If we ever expect this hope Saint Paul had for Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave who Paul sends back as a Christian, to flow out of our churches and into our homes, jobs, schools, and community we must first reflect on how we welcome one another. Paul begs Philemon to forgive his slave, welcome him as a brother, and love him as a fellow Christian.
Is the way we welcome one another the same way you would want to be welcomed or do we try to impress our sisters and brothers instead being our authentic selves?
Not all of us will be that person in our lives with a perfectly decorated home and cupcakes on the counter, but when I visit a friend who has a heart and home (and if possible, some queso dip ready to eat) that is always open, I know I am receiving the love of God.
It doesn’t take much: just our time, presence, and willingness to put others before ourselves. Therefore, welcome one another as you would want to be welcomed and get ready to encounter Christ when you open the door.
This prayer of the faithful includes welcoming, healing, and strength.
Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a boundless passion for life. After two decades of ministering to teens and youth ministers as a trainer, ministry mentor, and speaker in Catholic youth ministry, Tricia now serves as Campus Minister at USC Caruso Catholic Center. She loves adventure and seeks it everywhere she goes. As an avid foodie, she enjoys testing new recipes out on friends and family, gathering them around the table to encounter Christ in one another and be drawn to the satisfying unity we crave in the Eucharist. You can find out more about her here.