December 16 is coming. Soon, it will begin – 9 nights of parties culminating in Christmas Eve, a veritable introvert’s supermarathon. You have been storing up your energy, politely turning down invitations to other Christmas parties, because you know what it takes. For a month now, you have been hearing stories of the all-night roaming revelry of Las Posadas in the various hometowns of your fellow parishioners, and you have wondered, “Are there no introverts there? Don’t they get exhausted? What kind of mad man started all of this?”
Las Posadas remembers Mary and Joseph’s difficult journey throughout the city of Bethlehem, as they searched for a welcoming, safe place for their child to be born. Las Posadas remembers this journey in the way that liturgy remembers: by inviting the participants to enact the journey ourselves. We are set upon the road with the Holy Family as we search for that safe and open space where something new can be born: a new family, a renewed community. We are invited to consider opening our own doors to offer a sacrificial kind of hospitality to the stranger – a provocative sign in today’s political climate. We are called into joyful expectation, not for Santa’s presents, but for the one who will teach us to walk in the way of self-giving for the sake of the world. In short, las Posadas is a 9-day liturgy that rigorously reorients and reforms the community to bear witness to God’s love spoken of in John 3:16.
Perhaps, such a journey should be exhausting, not only for the introvert, but for the whole community. Imagine if we were to wear ourselves out building a new and renewed community, offering sacrificial hospitality to the stranger, and waiting for the one who will demand all that and more from us. What joy might then be born in us on Christmas morning when we have come to see clearly God in our midst?
I have to admit that last year, my goal was simply to put on the extrovert long enough to survive my first full marathon of Las Posadas. This year, I am coming as I am, an introvert hoping that the liturgy will do its reorienting work in my life by exposing my complacency and urging me to action in solidarity with those who seek safety and a home, by showing me that real hospitality demands more than placing food on the table, and by strengthening my desire to follow the one whose way of life is love. I invite you to join me on the journey.
Entren santos peregrinos, peregrinos reciban este rincón,
Y aunque es pobre la morada, la morada os la doy de corazón.