“It’s so good to see you!”
Fr. Felix’s warm daily salutation was as bright and consistent as California sunshine. Whether inviting parishioners into our magnificent Church or greeting the brothers in the hallway, our beloved departed friar had a wonderful, magnetic manner of welcome. In the wake of his tearful, but joyful funeral, I have had the great privilege to hear from so many people how Fr. Felix welcomed them at St. Dominic’s. Everyone has a Fr. Felix greeting story. (If you have not seen his tribute video on the occasion of his 75th birthday, go to www.stdominics.org for a special treat!) Even in his last illness, as we celebrated the feast of St. Jude and the 800th Dominican Jubilee, he reminded me on more than one occasion to make sure there was easy parking for the visiting dignitaries. Whoever you were, Fr. Felix wanted you to know that there is always room for you here at St. Dominic’s so that you might feel the love of God’s embrace.
Reflecting on Fr. Felix’s life on this 4th Sunday of Advent, the image of the hospitable innkeeper sprang to mind. We know so well that Christ was born in a manger because “there was no room in the inn.” Implicit in this brief narrative detail is the reality that because explosion of visitors due to the Roman census, Mary and Joseph were no doubt turned away from many a residence as they searched for shelter from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. In the midst of this rejection, an unnamed innkeeper responds by offering the only lodging available. Though he had no vacancy in his inn, he made room for Mary and Joseph, and because of it the world will never be the same.
As it was then, so it is now. In this season of shopping and the busyness of holiday plans, the celebration of Advent and Christmas reminds us that the most important thing we will do this year is to make room for Christ in our lives. It’s customary for St. Dominic’s to make a financial appeal for the needs of the parish. And although we thankfully receive and do rely on such financial support, this year, I also want to make a more pressing, more critical appeal. During season, I would ask you to consider your relationship with Christ. Have you made room for Christ in your life? We all know well that the impressive crowds that pack our Christmas Masses dwindle in the coming Sundays. If you’re among that Christmas crowd, that is okay. But know that you are welcome every Sunday. In fact, I promise that if your New Year’s resolution includes coming to Mass on a regular basis, you’ll begin to experience life in more vibrant and spiritual way.
And whenever we make room for God, he is eager to move in and enrich our lives. So whatever this looks like for you in a real and practical way, know that God will transform you to the degree you make space for him. In the midst of your joys and sorrows, God is there in a new way. If we feel alone, anxious or isolated, it is by trusting ourselves to God that he fills us with the gifts of his peace and comfort. What possibilities!
On behalf of the Dominicans and staff at St Dominic’s, may you experience the joy which flows from preparing Christ room in your heart.
– Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.