Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Inn Keeper: Advent

This Advent I have been thinking a lot about "the inn keeper". As we read in the Gospel of Luke and as most people are aware Jesus was born while Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem. At that time many people were traveling to the towns of their ancestors to comply with an order for a census. In other words, it was a very busy time.

Because of this busyness of the situation and all of the extra people that had to be accommodated no one had room for the Holy Family. Instead, Jesus, our Lord and our God made in human flesh, was born in a stable amid animals and filth. I guess that people relegated Him to the stable because they could not recognize Him. I guess they could not recognize Him because they were not looking for Him but instead they were preoccupied with everything going on around them.

I know that people are as familiar with that part of the story as I have always been. But I have never really considered the other people in the story until recently. For instance, if there was no room in the inn, then somebody had to turn Mary and Joseph away. They must have approached an inn and the inn keeper must have said "Sorry, we have no rooms available".

This advent I have been imaging this scene were an inn keeper who is preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of the current time completely misses who has come to him. This inn keeper didn't recognize that the most important thing that had ever happened was happening right in front of him. He could have been part of it; instead he sent his God away and said "I have no room left for you, all of my room is taken up with other things".

Now I contrast this inn keeper with  Elizabeth or Simeon who were awaiting the coming of the Lord. They were totally focused on God and as such God was an important part of whatever was going on in their lives. For the people in the Gospel who do recognize our Lord, He is always front and center. This being the case, they were able to recognized Him when he was in their midst.

I have been comparing these different events and their results with how I approach the Advent and Christmas seasons. Am I preoccupied with the commercial Christmas and putting all of my attention on the secular aspects of the current season? Am I so worried about Christmas parties and gifts and food, etc that I pull my attention away from God? In other words, am I like the inn keeper? Will I entirely miss the Lord and send him away saying "I have no room for you, I have all of these other things to do."

Or do I use this season of advent to refocus my spiritual life and anticipate the coming of Christ. Do I look for God and put my focus on the most important thing to ever happen? And as such, recognize the Lord when He does come and exult Him and experience the true joy of Christmas. I hope for the grace this advent season to be ever focused on the Lord even in the middle of all the craziness of the commercial Christmas.

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