JRS UK were delighted to welcome the International Director of JRS, Fr Thomas H Smolich, SJ, to give the Homily at the JRS UK Christmas Carol Service on Tuesday evening. His complete text for the Homily is below.
“I am very honoured to be part of this Christmas Carol service this evening, and because I have a bad accent I will speak very slowly. ‘Yes, but.’ How many times a day do you and I say or hear ‘yes, but’?
“Often it’s a way of putting a condition on something, limiting a truth or limiting a statement. ‘Yes, I’d like to help you, but I don’t have the time.’ Or, ‘yes, that’s a great idea but it will never work.’ Our sisters and brothers who are migrants and refugees hear ‘yes, but’ more than the rest of us.
“The ‘yes, but’ they hear is not only a sense of limit, a sense of condition, but it is also a way of saying ‘you’re not quite like us.’ You know, ‘yes she’s a wonderful person, but she’s a refugee’. Or, ‘yes, I know you’d be a good worker but you don’t have a work permit’. Or ‘yes, I know you fled your home because of violence but no, we don’t want you’. And finally ‘yes but’ sometimes says that the speaker just doesn’t get it. ‘Yes, I know Jesus was the Son of God but why was he born in a stable?’
“Yes, but. Yes, but.
“Jesus is ‘yes, and.’ What we celebrate in the birth of this little child is ‘yes and.’
“By saying yes and to us in the world, Jesus tells us through his birth that all of us are important. That everything which is part of our world, every experience, is important to Him. There are no conditions. There are no limits to the love and the message that he offers. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus, and he was born to poor parents. Jesus was the Son of God, yes, and he was born in a stable. Yes, Jesus was the Word made flesh, and he clung to his mother when they fled the designs of Herod. Jesus coming into the world, the way that we celebrate his coming this evening, is unconditional love.
“We are all welcomed by Him. Migrant and Refugee, native and foreigner, rich and poor, clueless and smart, we are all welcome because he said ‘yes, and’. A few days from now Pope Francis will give his annual speech on New Year’s Day. It’s always a speech for the World Day of Peace and this year he is focusing particularly on the reality of Refugees and Migrants. The copy is already on the website so I can tell you that what he is going to say is ‘yes, and’.
“Yes, we should welcome refugees and migrants – and we must protect them. Give you shelter, give you safety. And yes we must protect one another and we must promote. Give refugees and migrants among us the chance to learn, to develop their skills so that they can participate in the world.
“And yes, we welcome and protect and promote and we integrate. We let their voices have a voice in the home that they find here. The Gospel message this evening is ‘yes, and’. Wherever we find ourselves, in whatever situation we find ourselves, in whatever conditions or limits or fear or cluelessness we find ourselves Jesus is ‘yes, and’.
“Yes, we are gracious to be children of God, and Jesus loves us unconditionally, as always.”
Fr Thomas H Smolich
19 December 2017