Coming Home

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Coming Home

By Tomasz Juszczak, Director of the Office of Youth Evangelisation

There is something about Christmas that stirs up those warm feelings of familiarity and belonging. There is a popular Christmas song that articulates it quite well: “Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore. Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more.”

For me this is very much connected to my Polish heritage; our Christmas Eve ‘Wigilia’ meal where we read scripture, break bread and share the symbolic number of 13 dishes. We always set a spare place at the table for a stranger who might show up at the door with nowhere to spend Christmas. Dinner is followed by our exchange of gifts (we don’t wait until Christmas morning to open them!) and midnight Mass. No matter what has gone on throughout the year, coming back to these little traditions make me feel as though all is as it should be.

Whether you’re religious or not, there’s just something about Christmas. I do believe it’s a special grace from God that reveals to us something of the significance of the event we celebrate.

I have also experienced this ‘homecoming’ feeling at other times in my life. I remember arriving in Paris with a friend after the long-haul flight from Sydney. Exhausted and unshowered we searched on foot for our accommodation towing our luggage along in the stinking heat. We finally found it, only to be told it was too early to check in. As we wandered the streets we were scammed out of a few Euros, as tourists often are. Everything seemed to be working against us. It was then we decided to pay a visit to the famous Sacre Coeur basilica. As we entered among the crowd of tourists and sat down to pray I felt that same special feeling. Amidst all the frustration, being in a church with Jesus at that very moment made me feel as though I was home. Of course, we were, in fact, home with God.

In life, there are many things that can take us this way and that. However, even in those very busy moments, we can experience times of grace where for a brief moment all seems familiar, we feel at home. These moments are genuine gifts from God. If you’re feeling lost, overwhelmed or alone, try visiting a church. No matter where you’ve been, your rightful place is with the God who loves you and is always waiting for you to come back home.