One often hears the complaint that Christmas has been secularized. Cards without the figure of Jesus, I might dare to say, is symptomatic of the loss of the religious dimension of Christmas, and symbolic of the Christmas celebrations where there is no place for Christ. The stark reality of the Christmas more than two thousand years ago comes alive once again. Two thousand years ago in that cold winter night there was no room for Christ in the inn. History repeats we say. How true! There is still no room for Christ in the inn. There is no place for Christ in Christmas cards. There is no place for Christ at Christmas.
No room for God in my life
Reflecting on the phrase “there was no place for them in the inn” William Barclay observed that it is symbolic of what was to happen to Jesus. “The only place where there was room for Him was on the cross. He sought an entry into the overcrowded hearts of men and women: he could not find it. And still his search and rejection go on!” An Important question at this Advent should be: Is there room in my heart for God?
The inns were not five star hotels. They were places for the poor, as they are even today. The inn keepers, to be fair, we must admit, were not cruel or inhospitable. They just had no room left. All the rooms were already taken. It is not that any of them had anything against Joseph, or Mary and Jesus, the child she was about to bring forth. However much they wanted to assist, they were helpless. Believe me there was no malice involved in Jesus not getting a place to be born. The simple fact was that Bethlehem, and all her inns in particular were overcrowded. One of them is moved, probably seeing the expectant mother. Some place is better than no place, he/she must have thought. A place in the periphery is given.
The whole wide world and our large hearts are overflowing. All the available places have been occupied by riches, honour, prestige, pleasure, business affairs etc. The sign board is out, “house full”. Put plainly, it’s not always the case that we do not want him. Even if we want him, there is no place for him and if we find a place for him that can only be at the periphery, far removed from the hustle and bustle of life.
Like the innkeeper we carry on saying ‘there is no room’. Not because we hate him. It often happens, simply because our hearts are overcrowded with riches, people we love, the things we love, honour, prestige, pleasure, business affairs etc.
How do I crowd Jesus out of life?
- Do I say by my life style “no room”? I really would like to have you in my inn, but come back another day. I really would like to have you some other day when it is more convenient? Like the young man who said, Lord I want to follow you, not now but later, we show the door to Jesus.
- Do I say “no room” by my attitudes in life? Come back another day when you do not interfere with my goals, and plans I have for my life. I’m sorry but you really don’t fit into my plans; may be some time in the future. Now I have bought a piece of land, I have bought five pairs of oxen, I am newly married (Lk 14, 19-20). I will follow you but not now, rather after burying my father (Mt 8, 21-22), that is, sometime later, may be when I am old; after doing all that I have planned for me. Lord please don’t misunderstand; it is not that I do not want you. It is only that there is no time and place for you now. I shall keep the commandments, I shall be charitable, but I cannot sell all that I have acquired with my hard work. Let me enjoy them at least for some time (Lk 18, 18-23, the rich young man).
- Do I say “no room” by my behaviours? Do my actions say “no room,” you would be embarrassed if you came with me today and followed me around the office, or the class room, or my business. I won’t be able to carry on doing what I’m doing now so don’t come.
- Do I say “no room” in my thought life? Does my thinking reflect the mind of Christ? Sorry, but my mind is cluttered with a lot of conflicting philosophical ideas and new age concepts. There is no room for the ethical demands of clear thinking and submission to God. I have my own way of looking at life. I have my own philosophy of life. Sorry.
Jesus continues to find no room in many an inn today, although he stands knocking at the door as we read in the book of Revelations chapter three verse twenty, wanting to make a permanent home in our hearts as the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter three verse seventeen. He doesn’t want us to wait for some more convenient time, to open our hearts to him. It does not matter where we are and how we are, He wants to come into our hearts today, right now.