Beginning this Sunday, December 16, through Christmas Eve many Catholic communities will celebrate Las Posadas. In this Advent procession, the faithful re-enact the journey of Joseph and Mary as they seek shelter, or posada, and are repeatedly turned away until finally welcomed into a home where a celebration takes place.
Las Posadas is a communal expression of faith that reminds us of the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ and how the idea of welcoming the stranger began with his own birth. The theme of migration and invitation to hospitality would continue throughout his earthly life -- from the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt to escape persecution to Jesus’ itinerant ministry. As Blessed John Paul II asked in his World Migration Day message in 2000, “How can the
baptized claim to welcome Christ if they close the door to the foreigner who comes knocking?” The Gospel is clear that we are to welcome the stranger.
This is not only the story of our faith but also the story of our nation.
In its history, the United States has received so many waves of newcomers that it is truly a nation of immigrants. The tradition continues to this day, when we have reason to be hopeful for great generosity with regard to immigration policy. As of November 15, over 300,000 young people eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have applied and more than 50,000 have been approved since the program began on August 15, 2012. While DACA is only a temporary reprieve, it is a laudable step in the right direction. And, since the November 2012 election, immigration reform seems a greater possibility than it has in a very long time.
DACA and immigration reform are hallmarks of the kind of country the United States aspires to be and what we as Catholics recognize as the right thing to do. As we prepare for the birth of Jesus Christ with great anticipation, let us also reflect upon the situation of those who still seek posada as the Holy Family did and what that means for a nation of immigrants.
*Maura Moser is CLINIC's Chief of Staff