As this month begins, the gifts have been unwrapped, leftover Christmas tinsel may be clinging to the rug and there might be a few gingerbread cookies still left in the pantry. We’re a bit worn out from hosting or attending December’s Christmas gatherings, or due to pandemic-related concerns, we are feeling a bit disappointed that this Christmas wasn’t quite as social as years past. And now comes January of a new year, traditionally a time to start fresh. How can we rest or rejuvenate ourselves, no matter what kind of end to 2021 we had?
For starters, Christmas isn’t really over. It’s the season known as Christmastide now! Some people keep their decorations up until the “twelve days of Christmas” culminate on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. Still others like to keep their decorations or at least their Christmas lights up until the traditional end of the Christmas season on Candlemas, or the Purification of the Virgin Mary on February 2. But whether you prefer to pack the ornaments away immediately or keep the Christmas decorations and crafts going, there’s one thing every home can benefit from this January: increasing our hospitality. Hospitality during Covid? That’s right! We can welcome Jesus into our home EVERY DAY. And doing so will make us feel a greater sense of true belonging in these disjointed times as we are reminded of Whose we are. Let’s make a resolution now, or better yet: five! Here’s five ways we can increase our hospitality for Jesus in the new year:
1) Welcome Jesus First Thing, Every Day
“Now it came to pass as they went, that He entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, welcomed Him into her house”(Luke 10:38). We know how Martha worked as hard as she could cooking and cleaning for Our Lord and how Mary gave her full attention, sitting at the feet of Christ and listening to Him. But it’s easy to forget the simple profundity of that verse: she “welcomed Him.” How often Jesus was misunderstood, rejected, or overlooked. Yet Martha welcomed Jesus: receiving Him into her home! No wonder she became a saint! Let’s resolve to welcome Jesus in our homes and hearts this year… first thing; every day! What will that look like for us? Well, it can look like praying a Morning Offering prayer daily as soon as our eyes pop open, deciding to find and attend a daily Mass, praying an Our Father and emphasizing “Thy Will Be Done,” even as we start the coffee or take the dog for a walk. If there’s a prayer that helps you surrender everything to Jesus, try placing it behind the door of your most-opened kitchen cabinet or on the table near where you eat breakfast every day.
2) Tell Jesus, “Our Home is Your Home!”
You’ve Heard the Expression “My Home is your Home” or “Mi Casa es Su Casa!” Well, this 2022, let’s offer that sentiment to Jesus! Saints Martha and Mary offered Him a peaceful respite from a world that often rejected him. We should ask ourselves: Does our house do that? Do people who pass by our house know we are Catholic? This month, why not add a statue of Jesus or of our Blessed Mother on our property in a place that can be seen from the road, inspiring others! Do people who enter our home see our faith proudly on display? Add a beautiful picture of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in the home. Then arrange with a priest to have a Home Enthronement Ceremony in which you officially declare Christ as the King of your Home. Here is the Enthronement Ceremony which is ideally led by a priest, or the father of the family, or if neither is available, the owner of the home. We pray, “May our home be for Thee a haven as sweet as that of Bethany, where Thou canst find rest in the midst of loving friends, who like Mary have chosen the better part in the loving intimacy of Thy Heart!”
3) Give Jesus Your Heart, Again and Again
St. Francis once asked Jesus what he could give Our Lord, since he had already given Jesus his heart. Our Lord answered, “Francis, give me (your heart) again and again. It will give me the same pleasure.” Consecrate yourself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the first time, or once again. You can never consecrate yourself too often… it is like a repeated “I love you.” This one offers a fresh approach to the 33-Day Consecration. Available completely for free online, it sends daily emails to your inbox with a link to a 9-12 minute podcast containing beautiful stories and reflections, featured works of art and inspiring music… all themed around that day’s line in the Litany to the Sacred Heart.
4) Invite Jesus to Each Meal You Have
We know Saint Martha of Bethany worked hard on each meal she served Jesus. How wonderful to imagine the grace of inviting Jesus to our own table, to invite Him to sit among our family members and to serve Him there. But we can do this! Let’s resolve to always pray grace before meals and perhaps end by praying, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!” This 2022, why not also a prayer of thanks after meals, frame a picture of Jesus and place it in the center of our table as a way to include this most Beloved family member, and add readings from and discussions of Scripture to our mealtime conversations.
5) Take a Course in Welcoming Our Lord from the Saints
Martha and Mary were devoted hostesses and they can teach us how to welcome Our Lord. After all, Jesus did not just stop by their home once. Rather, He loved visiting them and would often visit when he was in or near Bethany. To start 2022 with a 9-day novena to Saints Martha and Mary that delves deeper into the lessons we can learn from their house at Bethany, sign up here for 9 podcasts delivered daily to your inbox that includes moving reflections, sacred art and music for only 9-12 minutes a day.
God bless you as you resolve to make your home and heart shine with hospitality to Our Lord in this fresh first month of 2022!