Welcome to our family.

Though not a liturgical event, this evening is the vigil of the Nativity of our Blessed Mother.  For me it emphasizes the historical aspect of our faith.  Christians, especially Catholics celebrate the humanness of our faith and birthdays are one aspect.

As does Christmas, the Nativity of our Blessed Mother reminds me that the origin and the object of our faith entered into history, walked among us; and is still coming among us through the sacraments, through His real presence in the Eucharist and through family members (all we need do is look to Lourdes, Fatima, Champion Wisconsin, and on and on to see this).  We are not trying to follow some abstract set of mystical philosophical ideals to better ourselves or cleanse ourselves or escape from the physical realities around us – we are very much part of the world and we look to God who was and is also very much part this world as well.  This is very important for us to keep in mind as we introduce people to our faith – it isn’t a what; it is a who.  We aren’t adherents we are family members – we don’t ascribe we belong.

For me the first part of today’s gospel[1] reinforces this, Christ is actually giving his disciples some practical rules and procedures to deal with situations in their community.  He understands mankind since He is part of the human race.  It shows me that God is extremely reachable, knowable (to the extent that He lets us know Him) and relatable.

God is not only reachable He actually reached out to us first and eventually came among us.  He desires to walk with mankind in their struggles on their journey home.  He could have just stood at the goal line and waiting to see who among us would reach Him – He didn’t because of His love for us.

Walking among us God came into history and let Himself be known.  He allowed us to participate with Him in time and thus come to know and love Him in an intimate way which couldn’t have happened if He remained in heaven, aloof from us.  He allowed us to know (taste and see if you will), the object of our faith; the goal of our journey. God made Himself small and we can learn much from this act.

Because our God came among us, allowed us to know Him, be becomes relatable.  Our God doesn’t cause us to shy off fearfully into corner shadows; He exudes familial concern and approachability.  He desires a relationship with those He loves – us.

All of this boils down to some very, very good news: we are loved children of God. He desires this intimate relationship with each of us and He gives us family to help with this.  We have just come from (what I consider) a family celebration of birthdays, anniversaries, friendships, and shared lives; and now we are together celebrating as family with God.  It makes us joyful and gives us peace. It allows us to feel, albeit vaguely, what God has in store for us and that makes us hopeful.  This is why we should feel within us the need to bring our friends, who don’t know him, to him.  Our family can never be too big; our celebrations have room for many more.  In my heart I know of no better way to ‘love your neighbor as yourself[2] than to welcome them into my family.

Dear family – let’s bring our other friends to meet our reachable, knowable, relatable Father; let’s bring them into our family.

[1] Today’s readings Ex 33:7-9,Rom 13:8-10, Mt 18:15-20
[2] Rom 13:9


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