The Raphael Remedy

The Power of Hospitality. The Grace of the Unexpected.

by | Dec 14, 2022 | Counseling

As we journey through Advent, preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, many feel happy anticipation of gatherings with family and friends. Others may face the days with trepidation, especially when there are pronounced dysfunctions or divisions among family members. Still others face the prospect of loneliness, isolation or grief, having experienced the loss of loved ones this year.

There are a couple of thoughts that occur to me as I ponder the season. First, is the power of hospitality. Don’t ever underestimate the impact that your welcoming attitude, decorations, and preparations can have on loved ones, and on those you include who don’t have families nearby to share the holidays with. Be mindful of neighbors or others who may be alone and include them. Not only will it be a blessing to them, but it will also be a blessing to you and your family. After all, Jesus calls His people to be family to one another…and those ties are not simply of blood relations.

Think of the word hospitality. Have you ever noticed the root of that word is “hospital”? When you look up the definitions of each word, they don’t seem related, but I think they actually have more in common than most realize. A hospital is a place of rest and healing. A place where the sick or injured can find solace and care. Recognizing that our world is currently so divided, and in so many ways, downright sick, many of those difficult family members with whom we struggle are wounded and suffering inside. It may be hard to see that when those wounds manifest in anger and judgment, but I assure you, they are likely suffering. So, when we gather, we can either rub salt in those wounds and engage in judgment and debate or we can recognize that our loving hospitality may be the balm they need to begin their healing journey and to start repairing whatever brokenness and division that may have developed between you.

Now of course, that’s easier said than done, so be ready to refer them to acute care or a different department if the conversations become more than you can handle. Plan a game, break out family photos, or simply walk away, if need be. Know your own limitations and when you need to pull back or change the subject.

The other thought that occurred to me as I read the daily Mass readings, is there was so much anticipation of the birth of Christ with such promise and hope in the Scriptures, yet those living in that time had no idea it was occurring.

So many blessings are unexpected in our lives. The holidays often set us up for disappointment as we set our hopes and expectations and then stuff happens that may take things way off track. Maintain a spirit of hopefulness and pray for the grace of detachment. Ask the Christ child to give you an openness to the particular blessings He wants to give you and maintain an attitude of openness, wonder and anticipation. In the midst of the stress and struggles, while the inn was full and people distracted, our salvation came. Ponder that.

Wishing you all a most fruitful Advent and a joyful and blessed Christmas.

Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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