Advent: Love Like God: A Reflection on the Innkeeper

December 16, 2020

Oh what now?  Who could be knocking on my door at this time of night?

There is truly no rest for the weary, I thought.  I’ve had a long, hard day, preparing and renting my rooms to those who are traveling for the census.  I remember how glad I was to rent the last available room in my inn that day.  I’m grateful for the business, but it has certainly worn me out.  All I wanted was to go to my own room and sleep.  But now I hear knocking.  Maybe I’ll just ignore them.  Maybe they’ll go away.  I know there are other inns on the way, let them stay at one of those.  (Although I heard that all the nearby inns are also full .)  Well, whoever this is should have thought about the census rush and how places to stay would be at a premium.  It’s certainly not my problem.  I’ll just roll over in my bed and go to sleep, I thought. 

But I couldn’t go to sleep. Not while I still heard the knocking at my door.  I’ve got to turn these people away or I’ll never get any rest.  Yes, I’ll tell them there’s no room and I’ll send them on their way…

I opened the door to see a man and a young woman about to give birth.   This couple was not like the others staying at my inn.  They looked rather poor, no servants were with them.  They had no caravan of animals carrying their extra clothing or possessions. They looked so tired, weary from traveling.  I could see that they had a rough journey in many ways.  But in spite of this, the couple seemed to radiate a peacefulness, joy, and hope.

Before I could send them away they both smiled at me.  The man said his name was Joseph, of the tribe of David, and offered me a blessing from the God of Abraham. He asked if he and his betrothed (her name was Mary) could stay for the night.  He explained that they had been to several other inns but were turned away for lack of rooms.  Joseph said that all they needed was a place to rest for the night and water for their animal.  I looked at them and tried to say the words that would make them leave and bring me back to my bed, but I couldn’t do it.  They seemed so trusting, so dedicated to each other.  They really could use a break, I thought, but I couldn’t help them, I had no rooms available. 

But I kept noticing a determination in Joseph, a fidelity to his God and a responsibility to his betrothed.  There was a humility about them both, a deep sense of trust that I could actually feel. Mary reminded me of my own daughter – young, gentle, and right now very vulnerable.  Before I knew what I was saying, I apologized for not having a room for them, and I offered them all I had – the stable.  Would they accept that?  It wasn’t the best accommodation.  It was full of animals belonging to the other travelers.  There was nowhere for them to sleep except on the hay.  But it was protection from the cold night, and they could hopefully rest safely.  To my surprise, they agreed to stay there.  And what further surprised me was the extent of their gratitude.  It was as if I had offered them my own room!  And they thanked God for me providing this place for them.  In all my years as an innkeeper, none of my guests has ever thanked God for me!  There was definitely something special about them, and the more we talked, the more my heart was touched by their love of God and each other.

My heart was so touched that I forgot how tired I was.  I offered to help them settle in for the night.  Joseph and I cleared a warm spot in the stable and put down fresh straw.  I brought in a few pieces of cloth to use for cover and an extra lamp for warmth.  I wanted to minister to this couple in a way that I had never wanted to with any other guests.  It was as if my heart was being transformed just by being with them.  After they were settled, we even prayed together!  (Between you and me, I think she’s going to have that baby tonight in the stable.) 

I went back to bed that night feeling grateful for the chance to be of service to them.  I went to sleep surrounded by a feeling of peace, joy, and hope.

 

Go Deeper:

  • Pray with the scripture: Luke 2: 1-7
  • The Innkeeper’s heart was opened by the light of God shining through Joseph’s and Mary’s hearts.  No longer filled with his own desire to be left alone, the Innkeeper was able to make room for Jesus.  Ask God to empty your heart of what keeps you from making room for Jesus there.
  • Pray the prayer, “Jesus, Ready My Heart” from Becky’s We are Not Alone Online: An Online Advent Retreat.
  • Who in your life needs ministering to?  What can you do to help him/her/them?
  • Pray for those who are fleeing their homes due to persecution or fear, who are seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

 

Photo by Marco Antonin-Reyes on Pixabay

 

Melinda is an Ignatian-trained Spiritual Director who is passionate about helping others deepen their relationship with God through individual direction, group faith sharing, and retreats. She received her certification in Spiritual Direction from the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center in New Orleans in 2012. She also holds a Master's of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University. Most recently, she served as spiritual director and campus minister at Christ the King parish at LSU and was on staff at the St. Joseph Spirituality Center. She also serves in the Women of the Well ministry and is currently on the board of the Louisiana Association of Spiritual Directors. She and her husband Darrel live in Baton Rouge and enjoy birdwatching and fishing.

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1 Comment

  1. Robin Doctor Kula

    I just read this out loud to my husband. I explained, “THIS. This is what I am learning to do. Ignatian Contemplation.”

    I LOVED this. Thank you.

    Reply

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