Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Make Room (Midnight Mass)

Right at the center of the Gospel reading
is a line that ought to haunt us:

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes
and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

There really isn’t any reason to find this shocking.
The inn might well have been filled.
Was the innkeeper supposed to kick out someone else?

Would you want a woman giving birth in your motel?
There wasn’t a lot of privacy in those inns.
And privacy was something
Mary and Joseph would certainly want.

It may have been money.
With so many customers,
the innkeeper had a chance to charge double or triple.
That may sound mean and greedy—
except that sometimes he has to rent his rooms for ½ price;
there are times people skip out without paying.

That innkeeper likely had a family to feed, and bills to pay.
So we can well imagine the innkeeper saying:
“I’d like to help. I wish I could. But . . . no, I just can’t.”
No room.

Don’t we say the same thing?
Do you really think the innkeeper
knew the real identity of those he turned away that night?

Obviously, it’s about how we treat other people—
people who show up at the wrong times,
we didn’t plan for them—come back another day?

People who are tiny, at the beginning of life—
because they’re small, and dependent, and hidden,
we tell ourselves they aren’t really people,
so they don’t count.
They’re disposable.

People who speak another language,
why are they hear in “our” country—we have no room!

Maybe it was you who was turned away—
by friends; your family, your spouse;
by an employer, or by the Church.

If you were told the cold barn is good enough for you—
you’re in good company!

But sometimes, it isn’t even about other people—
it is just about God himself.
How often God himself knocks at the door of our hearts.

“What is it? What do you want?
Why are you knocking at this hour?”

Well, let’s be clear what he does NOT want.
God doesn’t want our things.
He doesn’t need our worship.
God doesn’t need anything from us.

All he wants is us.
He wants room.
Room in us, room in our lives.

How much?
Well, how much room would God himself take up?

Suppose Joseph had said:
We need all the room—everything!
Who can imagine the innkeeper saying yes to that?

God asks the same of us.
Does He get the best room in our lives?
Are there “guests” in our lives—
relationships or habits—
that really can’t stay when Christ comes in?
“I give God an hour at Mass.”
But God says, “Not enough. I want every hour.
I want to be where you are—at work, at play.”

“I give part of my income to charity.”
“Not enough. Treat every penny as mine.”

“Whoa, God—I can’t do that.
I’ve given you part of my life.”

“Not enough. I want it all.
Every decision, every corner. I want it all.”

“You ask too much, God.
What you ask is impossible. I can’t do it!”

“You’re right. You can’t. But I can.
Just let me in. Make room for me.”

1 comment:

The Woman of the House said...

I most certainly would want a woman giving birth to stay in my hotel!! It's this kind of mindset that causes Jesus to be turned away now.