A Broader Kinship for Christmas

If you’re like me the idea of giving and receiving more of the normal “stuff” this Christmas might not be very appealing. But what if your family, your familiar and comfortable kin, would become radically inclusive this year and welcome in a true stranger? How about a black-clad Muslim woman from your local community college? All you can see of her is her eyes. Or how about a homeless man that you picked up as you drove through downtown on your way to the traditional family dinner? Hey, let’s get really radical. You bring with you a 20-something young man who shot and killed a member of an opposing gang when he was just 14 years old? That’s what this piece is about.

As you know, empathic people are prone to compassion fatigue. Heck, that’s why most people avoid caring too much. But if you are feeling a little depleted by your work-a-day world, even if it pays really well, here is my Christmas present to you. (Also, if you are a full-time care-giver struggling with a little emotional burnout, this may be your perfect antidote.) If you don’t already know him I think you’ll find this introduction to Father Greg Boyle a welcome stocking stuffer this year. This beautiful man is well into his 3rd decade running Homeboy Industries, an organization that provides hope, training, and support for formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women.  And he is still going strong and growing stronger.

His secret? Well it’s not really a secret. It’s a truth that almost all religions have taught for millenia, namely that we really are our brothers’ keepers. Greg Boyle takes that teaching seriously. His foundational belief is that no one, as in no oneis outside the human family. His strong conviction is that even our worst criminals, our greatest enemies, (and yes even our most ridiculous candidates for President) should not be outcast or marginalized in any way.

This is a man who has figured out a way to give until he can give no more and then he gives some more. As you get to know him I think you will begin to understand how you and all the rest of us can become more fully human, more fully alive.  All you have to do is emulate this inspiring man. Your present to me is your time, so you can skip to 4:00 minutes into the attached video at the place where my ministry mentor Ed Bacon is introducing Father Boyle, maybe the greatest and yet the most humble man I’ve ever met.

Please watch to at least the “self defecating humor” part which you will find at 15:30 into the video. I promise you will really enjoy watching more but just those 12 minutes carved out of your very busy life will make your day. Trust me. It will.
If you continue watching your pleasure will increase.
At 17:50 Boyle says: “demonizing is always untruthful.” That may or may not sound reasonable but Boyle will help you understand.
At 24 minutes Boyle gets emotional in the way we all do when we’re onto something really good. He quotes an LA gang-banger telling him:  “That was the first time in my life I ever felt admired.” here
If you get this far into the video you may decide to watch the rest but just in case, I think you’ll appreciate the “nobody ought to be left out” at 42.5.
Please consider this an invitation to a nourishing holiday season. This is everything I want for you and from you this Christmas. You probably already welcome a non-relative or two into your family. Why not welcome someone from the marginalized and outcast community as kin this Christmas?
In case you missed it above, here’s the link:
Merry Christmas!


  1. Lloyd walworth says

    What a concept! We’re all here together, let’s be inclusive on our shared globe! We need this conversation to “go viral” and be part of a universal dialogue! Thanks for being here!

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