No Room at the Inn

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  12/6/2010
 

“She wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

The fact that there was no room for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the inn at Bethlehem on the first Christmas should make us wonder, because the birth of Christ was foreseen and planned by God from all eternity. Hundreds of years before it happened, the prophets announced he would be born of a virgin (Is. 7:14) and that Bethlehem would be his birthplace (Micah 5:2). Many other details of his life and death were also foretold. Did God, then, forget to make room for his only Son? How is it possible that there was no room, when the child born at Christmas owns the inn, and Bethlehem, and the world, and every inch of room in the whole universe?

Obviously, God did this on purpose. There was no room in the inn, because this demonstrates that world has rejected God. The world makes no room for the God who created it. There was no room in the inn because God wanted to show that His Son comes as a Savior, to reconcile a world that is at enmity with God. Being turned away from the inn foreshadows the fact that the Savior himself will be rejected, despised, and ultimately crucified, and that all this was part of God’s plan from all eternity. Ultimately, the lack of room in the inn symbolizes the lack of room we make for him in our hearts. When our hearts are filled with all kinds of other desires than God, we gradually crowd him out altogether.

No room at the inn also means that we fail to make room for our brothers and sisters. The first great commandment is to love God, and the second is like it: Love your neighbor. Christ willed to be left out, because he is always in solidarity with those who are left out, shut out, and crowded out. That is the position of the unborn children today. They are crowded out of the busy schedules of so many people doing so many good and important things, but who don’t have a finger to lift to protect the lives of these children from abortion. They are crowded out of legislative agendas, preaching schedules, career plans, and volunteer activities. There’s just too much going on already; there’s no room in the inn.

Christ comes at Christmas to change all that. Today, he does not seek an inn; he seeks room in our own hearts and lives. And he asks that as we welcome him, we welcome everyone whom he welcomes, including the children most defenseless and forgotten. We welcome the Divine Child, and in doing so, we welcome every child. As we celebrate Christmas, we sing in “O Holy Night” the words, “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.” Amen! Let oppression cease and let Christmas come for the unborn!