ALL ONE IN JESUS CHRIST - Reflection for February 2009
This year has been established by the Church as the Year of St. Paul. It is a year when we are given the opportunity to think about and honour the life of this great missionary and apostle of the 1st century.

nasrudeenAs a person he may not have been the easiest to work with but we know that he gave his all to Jesus Christ and to making him known.  He did this by establishing communities of Christians in the larger towns of the eastern half of the Roman Empire.  These were to be communities of equals -  " neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but...all one in Christ Jesus". Christians, in other words, stand out as people who welcome others.

What would he make of us today, with our many social divisions, rich and poor, old and young, Irish and "foreigner" or "non-national"?  Paul taught his communities to be welcoming, to look out for the weaker, and to support those who were in need.  He taught the virtue that we Irish used to be renowned for: hospitality.

"Hospitality ensures that we welcome others as persons - and in some cases also as brothers or sisters in the faith - and that we do not consider them as cases, numbers or mere components of the workforce". (Archbishop A Marchetto, Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Oct. 2008.)

Now in this time of recession may we not let this precious gift of hospitality and welcome disappear, or lose completely our former title of "Ireland of the Welcomes."