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Welcome Him as You Would Me

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.

It doesn’t take much: just our time, presence, and willingness to put others before ourselves. // @SoCalTriciaT Click To Tweet

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

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Jean-Paul Marie Justin
    September 8, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Dear Tricia
    I am old. Yes, it is true. I am old. For a lesson on the margins, the Holy Spirit brought me to a college community for Mass yesterday evening. Came the Sign of Christ’s Peace. I reached out. A young woman held up her hands, palms up, her body leaning back away from me. The rejection stung and then hung as a distraction through the rest of the Liturgy. Old people among the young do not remind the them of Jesus. We remind them of those they hope to outgrow. You see Jesus doesn’t look like me. Jesus is forever 33 or a babe in a manger. And Mary, Mary is blonde, blue eyed, never knew a wrinkle or ran out of estrogen. The Gospel spoke of taking up my cross and following Jesus. That is embracing being “othered” a little more each day. Embracing being marginalized — and still bringing the Fragrance of Christ’s love into the moment. I didn’t do that. My cross dug into my shoulder. Mother Teresa teaches my heart about a vocation within a vocation. She teaches me about fearless aging. She is probably the only visibly old woman saint I can name besides Dorothy Day. Both embraced the cross of the marginalized. Both were a Sign of God’s Love for us . So when an old person offers a hand as a Sign of Peace, consider that hand may not have been touched by anyone since last Sunday.
    As you serve in Campus Ministry, and accompany students, perhaps this may be some grace to grow with
    Peace and all good

    • Reply
      Theresa
      September 8, 2019 at 11:37 pm

      Dear Jean-Paul Marie, I am so sorry to hear about your experience at church this morning. Although I am not there in person I’d like to extend a hand to you over the web in the sign of Christ’s peace. I love your encouragement to age fearlessly as that is what we should all do. To age is a gift-of life experiences, wisdom, and adventure. Sending you a smile and prayers and hoping the rest of your week is filled with lots of blessings 😊

    • Reply
      Nell O'Leary
      September 11, 2019 at 7:24 pm

      Dear Jean-Paul,

      Your words speak to my heart so much and I’m so sorry that you had such an experience and that a young person didn’t reach out to you for a sign of peace. I think this is exactly the message I was trying to convey in the devotion, how are we welcoming one another at our churches or homes. Trust me, I work with students who are the greatest at welcoming the children, the elderly, the student they do not know in the pew surrounding them, and I also work with students who are so in their head and aware of themselves only as well. Pray for me and all the campus ministers and young adult ministers in our Church. Our mission is large and hard. The world is forming our young churches relationships, identity, and mission. And unfortunately it is not focused on Christ and his bride the Church. We have work to do with our young church, and I’m happy to be on the front line so that no one has an experience like you had at church the other day.

      If I were at your church I would hold your hand and look you in the eye and tell you that I see you and that you are loved. I would embrace you in the same manner Mother Teresa embraced every soul she encountered and not because someone told me to, but because I see Christ in you. Please don’t stop reaching out your hand for the peace only God can provide you and pray that our young church knows the peace only God can give. Never stop reaching out, as I never stop reaching out to the lost and broken here at USC campus and beyond. Please pray for me as I will pray for you my young friend. Your childlike faith and hope for a stronger church inspires me and I’m so thankful you reached out.

      Peace,

      Tricia Tembreull

  • Reply
    Jean-Paul Marie Justin
    September 8, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    excuse me, do you my sisters notice that each of the readings for this Sunday speak to the experience of fearlessness in aging?

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