Friday, 26 December 2014

The Inn and the Stable: Christmas Reflection

Praise to Thee O Infant King Divine! Because of Thee all things are now sublime! O Tiny Babe I adore Thee and take Thy littleness as my own. Amen.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:4-7

 You refused to enter into the comfort of the inn, for you preferred the lowliness, poverty, and discomfort of the stable. And indeed the inn had no place for You, when it rejected Mary Your Mother and Joseph Your father. But yet the shabby stable had plenty of room for You. O is this not a lesson from that Wisdom above? For it was not in the inn that You were born -O Saviour Most Sweet; but in the stable. Is it not the proud of heart that have no room for You? Are such hearts any different to that inn? For both alike are so full they have no room for You and Your Holy Family, and thus they have no room for the Holy Trinity. The inn was filled with people so much less important and less in need than You; whilst proud hearts are filled with so much earthly things, attachments and thoughts; or else the rooms of their faculties (intellect, memory, will, imagination etc.) are crowded with self-understandings, sensual cravings, and self-centered desires. This fullness is what made it impossible for You to enter into the inn; and it is this same fullness which makes it impossible for You to enter into such hardened hearts. For such hearts are full of themselves and seek naught but their own way and their own will: so it is that hospitality is unknown to them. 

Yet unlike the inn the stable was empty! And such emptiness made it possible for You to abide there. In fact such emptiness enticed You to make Your dwelling there within its manger. And so it is with the broken spirit, the crushed and lowly heart -a heart empty of self-desires. Such a heart has plenty of room for You; and indeed such a heart attracts You in the same way as the flower attracts the bee, and as the magnet the rod of iron. In fact Your very love makes it impossible for You to make Your dwelling anywhere but in the stable of such a heart; for truly you take great delight to dwell in such spacious and lowly abodes, such empty and impoverished abodes.

"But can the stable at Bethlehem truly be called empty when it is housed with various smelly beasts and straw?" Ah, but these represent those imperfections which remain with us despite our efforts and despite our longings to be rid of them. Such imperfections are no obstacle to our Lord's dwelling in us -just as the animals and bales of hay were no obstacle then. In fact the Lord often prefers things a little rough as opposed to smoothly streamline; after all, He prefers stables as opposed to inns, obscurity as opposed to fame, poverty as opposed to wealth, the lowly as opposed to the haughty and proud. 

Now where was Christ born? Not in an inn; and so we learn that the proud never experience the joy of Christmas, the joy of the Infant Jesus, that joy of interior rebirth in sanctity wrought by the Spirit with Mary, and made possible by the Father with St. Joseph. Yet such a beautiful mystery takes effect in the lowly of heart. For long ago Christ was born in flesh in a stable; and today He is born in spirit, in those who welcoming Mary and Joseph with their 'fiat', their 'yes' to the Will of God, become as mystic stables wherein secret glories -hidden from the perceptions and gazes of the world- take place. For indeed the Creator of heaven and earth, the sole begotten of the Father before all ages, the Ineffable Word of God and Supreme Lover of Mankind, was made flesh and born of a virgin in an obscure town called Bethlehem, in a stable where even beggars cringe to dwell. All this occurred whilst millions of people throughout the world continued on with their daily routines; completely oblivious to the most significant event that had every yet occurred in the history of the world! Often we ourselves are affected by this forgetful haze of ignorance; unaware that inside our soul's the Lord is moving mountains, raising valley's, drying up rivers, making wet the deserts dry. Faith, this is what we need. We must know it, we must believe it: that the Christ Child lives within the manger of our soul. Feed Him with Mary's milk, adore Him with Joseph's paternal gaze. This is Christmas, and it never ends! For it is an eternal day, a day perpetually repeating and intensifying itself in the souls of those who pine for the soft touch of the Infant Jesus, and who yearn in turn to caress His pillow skin.