“She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
These are familiar words, of course, and could lead to a variety of observations.
Apart from the obvious connections with Jesus’ death and burial – which also happens outside of the town, involved being laid and then raised upon wooden beams, wrapped in burial clothes, and resting in a tomb hewn out of stone (i.e. a cave) like the “stables” commonly found around Bethlehem – and apart from the Eucharistic themes – the Son of David who reigns/is present forever, born in the city of David, Bethlehem (literally “house of bread”) as the true Bread of Life, and laid in a manger (i.e. a feeding trough) – I would like to focus a brief reflection on the lack of room in the inn.
Is it not the case for most all of us that we don’t often have room for God in our lives as well? Is it not the case that we perhaps prefer him to be at a distance, “safe” on the other side of the door while we are “safe” peering through the peephole at him? Maybe we invite him into the antechamber of our hearts, but certainly not to the inner sanctuary.
Is there room in the inn of your heart for the Christ child this Christmas? Is there room in your life for the surprise “knock on the door” of your heart – a surprise that makes life whole again, that makes life beautiful and true? What internal or external clutter refuses room for Jesus? Let’s take this last week or so of Advent to make room for Jesus, or rather, to invite the Lord to make room within us.
Here are just a couple of thoughts on how you might become more docile in order that the Spirit might move and make room for the Son:
- Get to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Nothing says “declutter” like this Sacrament that literally washes away sin – making us right with God and with the Church. It’s time to let go of our sin and our attachment to it and experience mercy and forgiveness. Look up your parish or a local parish online, note the confession times over the next week, and make it happen. Here is a link to a good examination of conscience.
- Let go of resentment. How can there be peace on earth if we have no peace in our hearts. From my experience, one of the greatest causes of distress and frustration lies in a hard heart, an unforgiving heart, a heart that resents. Who do you need to forgive this year? Do you need to forgive yourself? What have you been harboring against others? Turn it into a little prayer. “Lord, I forgive ______, for ______. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
- Physically de-clutter. We live in an age where most everyone suffers from stuff-itis. We have so much stuff. What is old and broken? Can you part with it? What is extra? Can you give it to someone in need? What is not extra, but perhaps the cause of an inordinate attachment? Will you part ways? Could you even give something away that hurts a bit?
This Christmas, I pray that the classic line from Scripture “no room in the inn” is not true for us, so let’s not waste time in allowing the Spirit to make room in our hearts and let’s be surprised for once instead of clinging to control.
He’s coming regardless…do you want him to rest at a distance, or to transform from the inside out?