We begin a new liturgical year with anticipation of the birth of a newborn. God is fully aware of our challenges, obstacles and missteps. But He comes as a little baby, innocent and without judgement. He comes to meet us, not so much so that he can get to know us, but so that we might come to know Him. He came, not for his convenience, but for ours. He spends his first 30 years learning about us, listening to us and walking among us. The next three he uses to invite us to ‘come and see’, teach us, to guide us and to challenge us – but never to force us. He offers us mercy, compassion, friendship and hope. In the end, he sacrifices and suffers for us, giving everything he has, not dependent on our response in the moment, but in anticipation of the hope which tomorrow offers.
As a Vincentian, it strikes me that this is perhaps the most impressive home visit of all time. Home visits are at the core of being a Vincentian AND a Christian. It is in the home visit that we become known to the client and that the doors of hope are swung wide. We should not fear it, but embrace it and the client family as God embraces us – in love, mercy and compassion bringing the gift of new opportunities for today and hope for tomorrow. I know some conferences and individuals shy away from the home visits. We wrap our hesitancy in excuses of it is not safe, it’s an intrusion of their space, their place is not clean and so much more. How do I approach the home visit? Do I come for the client or for me? Do I come first to hear their story and to know them? Do I work to establish relationship or simply ‘gather the facts?’ Do I offer opportunity, friendship, compassion and hope – or only food and money? Am I willing to join in their suffering?
Father, give me the courage to embrace the home visit. Let me be your presence that I might make a difference. Let me come humbly before those in need, offering myself in friendship and as a companion on the journey. Let me bring the truth of simplicity laced with gentleness, patience and selflessness. Let me offer a passionate love for those we encounter that they may feel your embrace. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen