Welcoming the stranger with an open heart

The Fourth Sunday in Advent

A popular late Advent custom among some Hispanic communities is Las Posadas, which means “the inns.” For nine evenings, starting on December 16, neighborhoods remember the journey of Mary, pregnant with Jesus, and Joseph as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Some of participants representing the Holy Family begin at one home, and they journey by foot to another home where other participants are waiting inside. The group outside sing a traditional song in Spanish asking the people inside for a place to stay: “In the name of heaven I ask you for shelter, for my beloved wife can go no farther.” The people inside respond in song: “This is not an inn. Get on with you. I cannot open the door. You might be a rogue.”

Hospitality, especially to strangers, requires an openness of our space, our time, and our hearts to those others have rejected. Click To Tweet

From house to house the pilgrims journey until finally the group at the last house sing, “Is that you Joseph? Your wife is Mary? Enter pilgrims! I didn’t recognize you.” As everyone gathers inside, they all sing: “Enter, holy pilgrims. Receive this corner, not this poor dwelling but my heart.”

Hospitality, especially to strangers, requires an openness of our space, our time, and our hearts to those others have rejected. As we mark these last few days before Christmas, let us practice genuine hospitality to those who come to our doors. You just may be welcoming the Holy Family in disguise.

 
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”

Image credit: Karolina Szczur, unsplash, CC0.

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