Chris was only seven years old but rather big for his age. Christmas was near and the school was preparing for its annual play. Everyone knew that Chris could not possibly be asked to take an active part in the play. He was a slow learner. But to everyone’s surprise, the teacher assigned to him the role of the innkeeper. The boy was delighted. All he had to learn was just one line: ‘There is no room in the inn.’ He had that down in no time.
The night finally arrived. The parents took their places. Every seat in the auditorium was filled. The children entered singing “Silent Night”. The lights dimmed. The curtain opened on scene one. Mary and Joseph entered the stage and walked up slowly to the inn. “Please sir, my wife is not well. Would you have a room for us for the night?” Chris was ready for his line. He had rehearsed it all night. He began, “There is…” and he paused. He started over again. “There is…” and again his mind went completely blank. Everyone was mortified. Realizing the awkward situation, Joseph thought he would make up something and started walking away toward the stable on the left part of the stage. Seeing him walking away, Chris in desperation called out “Look, there’s plenty of room at my house, just come on home with me.”
Chris had understood everything! We have managed to eliminate Jesus from politics, movies, culture, life in general. But perhaps there is still a space for him in our hearts.
There was a man who like Chris, had plenty of room in his house for Jesus. His name was John The Baptist. His life was not easy. He finished beheaded. But he never doubted his mission. He went around proclaiming basically one thing. Repent, he would say to all and sundry.
Repent! What does this word mean? It has a twofold meaning. First of all, acknowledge that there are areas inside you that need to be fixed. I recently saw a small girl carrying a blistering red T shirt with this message – “I like monsters, mess and mud”! And I said to myself, all of us can wear that kind of T shirt. Behind our self righteous masks of piety, we know the amount of filth there is in us.
But there is a positive dimension in repentance. It is not all negative. It means turning away from something, our mess, and look towards Someone. It means basically opening our homes to Him.
Father John of the Cross was thirty years old when he had a colorful experience. A pretty girl coming from a rich family fell madly in love with him. She tried to get his attention but to no avail! One evening she decided to go for it! She managed to sneak into his room. Obviously he was very surprised to find her there, staring at him.
His reaction? He did not get mad at her. He did not censure her. He just spoke gently with her. Surprised at her own actions, she burst into tears and left.
The pretty girl wanted to embrace Father John. He showed her that it is better to embrace God.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.