The Inn or the Stable: Making Room in My Heart for Christ

To interiorize the mysteries of the life of Christ is to “let the light of the countenance of Jesus illumine the eyes of our heart and teach us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men” (CCC 2715). To interiorize the great mystery of the Nativity is to open our hearts and prepare them to let Christ enter them as a tiny baby, and to let resound in our own hearts the heartfelt cry of St. John Chrysostom when he says, “how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days has become an infant” (Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom). 

“She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn…she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk. 2:7, 19). 

How quick are our 21st century minds to judge the innkeepers and their lack of hospitality! It’s so easy for us to think: How rude! Can’t those ignorant people see that this poor woman is about to give birth?!? If only they had known who the child was! If they had only known it was the Son of God who was asking for a place to lay his head, they would have certainly made room for the Holy Family on that cold night! 

Before we jump to any hasty conclusions, I think it’s crucial for us to ponder these things in our own hearts, as Mary did. If we place ourselves in that scene in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, would our response really be that much more noble, selfless and welcoming than that of the innkeeper? How ready are we to receive Christ into our own homes, our own hearts? Do our hearts model after the lowly stable, or are our hearts like the inn, already crowded with so many things that there is no room for Christ to enter? There are infinite possibilities as to what fills our hearts: joys, sorrows, dreams, worries, desires, fears and insecurities. Would I be willing to let go of these things in order to make room for Christ? To let His dreams, desires, and sufferings enter my heart? It is so easy to condemn the innkeeper, but in reality we are just as guilty for not giving Christ the first priority. We desperately need to learn how to slow down and open our hearts more fully to Christ. Therefore, by interiorizing the events that surround the Nativity, and reflecting on them in the light of our own hearts and consciences, we can begin to transform our crowded, chaotic inn into a quiet stable where the Christ-Child can peacefully rest his head. 

If you think about it, God could have easily forced his way into the inn. He could have sent lightning down on the innkeeper the moment he refused to let the Holy Family in. And yet it is the irony of freedom that the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” would not force the innkeeper to cooperate (Is. 9:6). In the same way the Creator of the Universe will not force his way into our hearts. He can’t force us to open our hearts to his Son and interiorize this beautiful mystery of God becoming Man. We must invite Him in.
The One who “willed, had the power, descended, and redeemed” waits for entrance in to our hearts (Nativity Sermon of St. John Chrysostom). And yet, we need God’s own grace for this opening of our hearts to take place. What an incredible paradox!

But how hard it is to let Christ in so he can illumine the dim and often blind eyes of our souls! It may be a temptation to give up and not try at all, frustrated that it will take a lifetime to empty our hearts of everything except Christ. However, we need not despair because we cannot clean out our hearts completely overnight. All we need to do is make room for a little child. Having a heart like the stable doesn’t mean your heart is completely empty. Even the stable had animals and a manger in it. Having a heart like the stable just means we are humble enough to admit that we are not worthy to receive the King of the Universe into our hearts, but that we open ourselves anyway, praying for guidance and strength, and trusting that He knows our sincere desire of making room for Him. If we do this, then just as Christ grows from a baby to a man, he will also grow in our hearts. We will be able to open our hearts more and more. Slowly but surely He will open our eyes so we can take in, understand, and interiorize the mysteries of his life and love. And it all begins with us being willing to open our hearts to receive the Infant King. 



About Ashley Osmera

Ashley Osmera is a junior at Belmont Abbey College. She is the oldest of 5 children, and enjoys basketball, singing, piano, and photography.
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