“I was a stranger and you made me welcome” Mt. 25:35
Home is everything, without it we are all lost! Home is where we are safe and sound.
So much of our contact and connection is now done by way of technology and it is great in many aspects but it is still less than the real thing.
In the midst of almost full employment so many are without a place to call home. Enormous amounts of money have been directed toward alleviating the housing crisis. It needs to continue but needs to be re-evaluated for its impact.
The plight of asylum seekers and refugees has generated heated debate. Their coming to Ireland is both a challenge and opportunity. As a people we have known both the rejection that emigration brought in some contexts but also the welcome given our forebears across many countries in which they sought a better life.
The Christmas Crib scene is often so sanitised that the harsh reality of the homeless young couple is not evident. The child born to them was destined to change our view of the stranger.
All strangers evoke some anxiety and fear. That is until we begin to meet the stranger and begin to ask ourselves what it is we are afraid of? Many new and strange experiences continually come into our lives. If we fail to welcome them, we are all the poorer.
Great credit is due to so many communities who have conscientiously supported the work of integration. Our schools deserve special recognition for their work in this regard, often without additional resources being provided. Still the challenge remains. We have shown that we have the capacity to do whatever is required.
In a time of great change in society we all can feel a sense of strangeness. Things are not like they were. For older people it can be like a foreign country. For younger people it can be reflected in anxiety about where one fits in or for others a deeper sense of alienation of being outside the flow of society. This too is a form of homelessness, of not feeling secure and welcome. Christmastime often sharpens that experience of being outside the loop of celebration.
Whatever your mood at this time you are welcome. Find your own time and space among our gatherings in prayer. Stillness before the great mystery of these days can be wonderous in coming home to our God gifted selves.
Wishing you Joy and Peace.
+ Wm. Crean
Bishop of Cloyne