Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 25, 2022
I received a Christmas card from Bishop Matthew Uzstrycki this year and it included a little card with a story. A teacher who was organizing a Christmas pageant selected one of her third grade students to be the innkeeper. All that he had to do was tell Joseph, “There is no room at the Inn.”
But during the performance – after Joseph begged for a room for his pregnant wife – the boy didn’t have the heart to turn him down. “Well,” he said, “if it’s urgent, come on in.” Perhaps that young boy understood the meaning of Christmas after all.
The vision of God in Jesus is about inclusivity. It is all about including, bringing back in those who were outside, those who were rejected. In fact, about bringing all of us as sinners back to our true home in the Kingdom of God.
Right from the birth of Jesus we see this inclusive message. Jesus was not born in a royal palace or as part of the rich and powerful. Some of the first guests to greet the new born Jesus were the Shepherds. Shepherds were social and religious outcasts in that time. Many of them were homeless and deprived of basic human rights. Yet, there they were the first to greet Jesus.
The mission of Jesus was always about embracing the outsider, being with those who did not fit in. God was reaching out and welcoming back in those who had always felt left out on the outside.
Who are the outsiders in our world today? Who are the outsiders in our church today?
Those of us who celebrate the birth of Jesus, who come out on this Christmas time to greet Jesus like the Shepherds, we need to be faithful to the vision of Jesus. Like the God revealed in Jesus, we need to invite all in, reach out to the outsiders to include them.
We should not become trapped in our small identities. Canadian, Catholic, and so on. In Jesus, we are all children of God, we are united with the entire human family, for God came to embrace all of humanity. The Church must be a world church that embraces the world. This includes the call to love even our enemies. We must embrace the very person or group that we would dearly love to destroy or eliminate.
Are there certain people or groups that you have treated as “outsiders”, whom you have excluded from your life? Is there room for outsiders among disciples of Jesus?
Imagine, God was born as a baby among us. This is God reaching out to each of us. Never feel that you are outside of God’s love. We also need to make sure we do not make anyone else feel that they are outside the reach of God’s love.
Christmas is not a feast about a small and pure group of elites. It is a feast for all the outsiders to experience the hand of God reaching out in Jesus to bring them in.
That young boy who changed his line to allow Joseph and Mary to enter the Inn, was actually expressing the true spirit of Christmas. To welcome in the outsider, to include the excluded is the very spirit of Christmas.