2008 Christmas Eve Reflection
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.Luke 2:6-7
"There was no room for them in the inn."
For those of you who visit my infinitesimal corner of the universe, you can notice there are times when my musings pose a question. Sometimes the inquiry comes as a direct result of the subject at hand. There are other times, however, when my mind's eye sees something and is able to extrapolate a topic which the reader may or may not have considered.
It is these two verses of the Gospel proclamation from the Midnight Mass of the Feast of the Incarnation which grabbed my attention. It is the phrase I have set aside which provided the inspiration. It is from this where the question arises.
Those who profess to follow Jesus Christ probably ask a variant of this on a regular basis. Tonight, as we celebrate His coming into the world as one like us, it seems a perfect time to ask it again. I pose the question for your contemplation, more as an exhortation rather than an admonition.
How much room at your "inn", your heart, your core of your being, is there for the Christ Child?
I offer some ideas as you ponder this.
Infinite, Eternal Love is here. We, who were made in the image and likeness of God, have that same capacity and potential--to love without limits. Do we even begin to grasp that possibility? While we can be aware of this infinite stature, we also are aware of our finite nature. And so, as the poet Robert Browning wrote, our reach exceeds our grasp.
So is the struggle to reflect the Light and echo the Word. While made "very good," the war within us wages. With the gift of free will, we are allowed to make our lives a choice between good and evil. We have that ability to be truly god-like, as obedient creatures of the Creator.
Sin, both Original and personal, have diminish that ability, much like the moon diminishing the sun during a solar eclipse. It is sin which displaces the room at the inn reserved for Him. In reality, since both are infinite and seeking to fill an infinite place, there can only be room for the One or the other.
The "Jesus Prayer" reminds us of our fallen state. St. John in his first letter also gently reminds us we are still sinners (i.e.--one who sins and is still capable of sin). The Word continually calls us to holiness, to perfection, to sanctity in our thoughts, words, and deeds committed or omitted. Examining our conscience should bring us from knowledge of our selves to Wisdom, striving to go beyond what the rich young man accomplished within the Law to live in Spirit and in Truth.
This is not meant to be an exercise in despondency. It is to acknowledge who we are and Who He is. It is to understand we all fall short of the grace of God. It is to know we need Him, for nothing can take His place, although at times nothing succeeds.
Nothing, however, can take the place of everything. The Alpha and Omega is that true everything. When we realize that, true conversion takes place. Only then can we begin to rid our inns of those things which take the space reserved for Him. Only then can the Light become brighter, for there is nothing which can cause shadows. Only then can the Word be clearly heard, for there is nothing which can cause distortion.
When He first came, there was no room for Him in the inn. He was assigned to a cave, placed in a feeding trough to sleep, surrounded by representatives of the original act of Creation. When He comes for the last time, He will claim all that is His. In between that first and last Christmas, we still will have our Advent. Our lives are that Advent, that time to "prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths" so "all mankind shall see the salvation of our God."
And with that Advent, there will always be Christmas.
There will always be room at the inn.
Hodie Christus natus est.
My other Christmas Eve Reflections for your viewing: