To accompany is to go with, to be present with. It’s true to say that we all need to be accompanied sometimes4422160_s-darker.

Joseph accompanies Mary as they travel together to Bethlehem for the birth of the saviour. Each of us too is called to accompany others as they seek friendship, meaning and purpose in their lives.

The RCIA is like a school of accompanying where those of us who are involved have the privilege of accompanying others on their sacred journey. This is a microcosm of life which presents all of us the opportunity to accompany each other on our pilgrimage through life to eternity.

I heard recently of a woman who was drawn to go to Church. She left home one Sunday and got as far as the door of the Church. However when she arrived she didn’t have the confidence to go in, and so she turned around and went home. The same thing happened the next week, and the week after for six weeks. On the seventh Sunday she again headed towards the Church but this time as she approached the door someone had just entered before her. This man turned back towards her, holding open the door for her to enter after him. The lady did enter, became a very committed Catholic and went from strength to strength.

Who are we accompanying the Christmas? Who are we holding the door open for? It may be someone engaged in the RCIA process. It may be a long lost friend or family member. Perhaps even someone who has drifted away from coming to Church.

Pope Francis in his homily for the Inauguration of the Year of Mercy reminds us that “to pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy.” We are being encouraged to accompany others through the Holy Door and during the whole Year of Mercy by practicing mercy. To do this we need to be in touch with others, to accompany them, especially the most in need. Who am I accompanying? Who is the Lord calling us to accompany?

The promise of Christmas is that God is with us- Emmanuel- in the person of Christ we are accompanied always. How will we reflect this reality in our lives this Christmas season and in the Year of Mercy?