“I heard the bells on Christmas Day on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to (wo)/men.“
I love traditional Christmas music and it’s helping me adjust to our current circumstances. We are reaching out to find the good in the chaos, the joy in small things and the new traditions that have evolved through these confusing days. “...The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on Earth, Good Will to all.”
Whatever your belief or holiday, you can feel the pull to quiet and humility. It’s time to look back over the year and assess where we’ve cried and loved and screamed and hugged.
I am impressed by Fr. Greg Boyle who founded Homeboy Industries in 1988:
“Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Each year over 10,000 former gang members from across Los Angeles come through Homeboy Industries’ doors to make a positive change. They are welcomed into a community of mutual kinship, love, and a wide variety of services ranging from tattoo removal to anger management and parenting classes. Full-time employment is offered for more than 200 men and women at a time through an 18-month program that helps them re-identify who they are in the world offers job training so they can move on from Homeboy Industries and become contributing members of the community - knowing they count!”
Recently, a miracle visited Father Greg’s organization when they received the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Humanitarian Award, an award that rarely goes to a US-based nonprofit. Fr. Boyle, lives in humility. He notes that he is not the recipient of this award; the staff is. This includes employees, volunteers, and all the young men and women who grew up scared, abused, and alone, who once slid into, and with Homeboys help, out of gang life.
Here are some thoughts from Father Greg for you to strengthen both your humility and your joy:
- One trainee, which is what Homeboy calls its transitioning clients, told Boyle not long ago that no mask was needed if you trust in God. “Well here’s a news flash — God is telling you to wear a mask,” Boyle told her.
- There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’. There is only us.
- You are exactly what God had in mind when he made you.
- You are so much more than the worst thing you’ve ever done.
- God can get tiny if we’re not careful.
- Don’t forget, you are the hero of your own story.
- The highest hallmark of a civilized society is not the rapidity by which it exacts vengeance, but its ability to hold victim and victimizer in its compassionate heart.
- If you are paying attention, then the day is going to be pretty joyful, and a lot of delight will fill it.
Finally, to continue your walk with Homeboy Industries, think about a donation (they also have cool swag), and read Fr. Greg’s book “Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.”