The December edition of Connect-by-night at Holy Apostles begins tonight. I cannot think of a more beautiful expression of the Christmas spirit than welcoming those without a home into this building that represents for us our spiritual home during this time. One thinks of Mary and Joseph, far from home and without a place to stay. It is very true that when we welcome our sisters and brothers in the Connect-by-night program we are welcoming none other than Jesus Christ himself.
Our parish family is very generous. Recently we have participated in two great programs: Treats for Troops in October/November, which collected items that were sent to overseas military service personnel. And our current ongoing collection for Philabundance. Both projects were led—and in the latter case initiated—by the children of our community. This is the work of the Gospel, plain and simple
I am reminded of the great 4th century preacher and bishop of Constantinople, St. John of Chrysostom, who preached in one of the largest and most beautiful churches ever built, the Hagia Sophia. Though his church building was beautifully painted and adorned with a wealth of beautiful and valuable objects, John Chrysostom was relentless in reminding his listeners of what was really important. He preached eloquently about the need to take care of the poor. He warns people about giving lavish gifts to beautify their place of worship without also giving lavishly to care for those in need. He recognizes the importance of beauty in worship. He recognizes the importance of having a space that is dignified and gracious, and that lifts people out of their normal routines and turns their hearts in worship to God, but St. Chrysostom warns us never to lose sight of the fact that Christ himself comes to us in the form of those who are poor. Christ comes to us as a pilgrim in search of shelter. Will we not welcome him?
In this season, when we rightly adorn and decorate our homes and our church, when we rightly celebrate and enjoy the gifts of life together with our friends and family, we are very blessed indeed to have the opportunity to also partake in Connect-by-Night to remind us what is really important about this season. In the words of St. Chrysostom, “Do not adorn the church and ignore the poor for they are the most precious temple of all.”