Who is welcoming whom?

In advent we prepare to welcome Jesus into the world but who is welcoming whom?  Do we believe that God is somehow ‘out there’ and we are welcoming God into our space? Are we preparing our homes for Christmas visitors and at the same time preparing our hearts/souls for Christ?  If we are doing the welcoming we are in control – who are we welcoming and to what?

Consider the nativity scene. The shepherds visit Jesus. Later on the wisemen visit Jesus.  Who is the host?  Who is welcoming whom? As we enter the nativity scene we enter Jesus’s space and are confronted with the vulnerability of a baby.

When reflecting on this scene St Jerome (347 – 420) had a conversation with Jesus – ‘you are shivering, lying on a hard manger, how can I repay you?’ Jesus replied that he desired nothing but that Jerome should sing ‘Glory to God in the highest. I shall be even poorer in the Garden of Olives and on the Holy Cross’.  Jerome said ‘I have to give you something – I’ll give you all my money’.  Jesus replied ‘heaven and earth belong to me. I do not need your money; give it to the poor and I will accept it as if it were given to me.’

Whose world is it?  Who is welcoming whom?

Do we accept that Jesus is welcoming us to his world, not the other way round?  Love is bidding us welcome. How do we respond?  Through his love all things are possible, even the transformation of the pandemic situation and the problems of global warming.  Through Christ’s love we are transformed and learn to share the earth’s resources fairly. The homeless, the poor, those suffering as a result of war and natural disasters are treated with respect and dignity. 

Do we have faith that we can be transformed? Therefore our world – or rather the world in which we live – God’s world – can be transformed? In the beginning God welcomed us into his world.  Then God demonstrated the extent of his love in Jesus, who welcomed and welcomes us again and again.

Love bids us welcome.

May we convey love’s invitation to all we meet.

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