3rd Sunday of Advent – December 13, 2020

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2020
My Dear Good People,
Every year I tell this story to my Sisters, and you have perhaps heard it from me as well, but it bears repeating.
There was a second grade Christmas Pageant one year in a local parish. Little Mary and Joseph approached the makeshift door of the Bethlehem Hotel and knocked. A pint-sized innkeeper opened the door and peered at his two visitors.
“What do you want?” he asked them in a voice twice as big as himself.
“My wife is having a baby. Can we stay in your house tonight?” asked the weary Joseph.
The innkeeper seemed to be searching for his carefully memorized lines. His gaze shifted from Mary to Joseph to the audience. Something was brewing in his tousled head. Suddenly he answered with resolve, “Sure you can stay here! C’mon in!”
With that he let the little couple walk through the door frame and slammed the door behind himself, effectively bringing the pageant to an unscheduled finish. The audience of parents and grandparents began to giggle, then laugh as, one by one, the rest of the second grade actors stomped onto the stage.
“Hey,” a ragged shepherd began to shout to no one in particular. “How am I supposed to say my lines now?”
The sheep protested loudly, “We’re supposed to be in the stable!”
And the McDonald’s birthday-crowned kings wondered aloud what they should do with their presents.
Finally the littlest angel, her tinsel halo slipping over her eyes, knocked on the wooden door. Out came the little hotelier, now fully aware that he was in trouble.
“What’d you do that for?” the angel angrily asked him. “Now we can’t finish our show!”
By this time the audience had dissolved into gales of laughter. But when they saw the innkeeper’s face crumble into a tiny triangle of hurt, there was sudden silence in the auditorium. He finally found his voice.
“Well,” he began softly, but his words found a place in every heart in that dark auditorium.
“I didn’t want to be the one to say that Jesus couldn’t be born in my house….”
As we come to the third week of Advent and light the rose colored candle on our wreath, these words strike a chord. It may happen that someone calls on the phone, stops us at work or sits down beside us on the subway, and interrupts our carefully planned day with a need to be heard. It isn’t easy to see the face of Christ in her or hear the invitation of God in him. We have our own concerns, our own heartaches, our own deep needs, and find it hard to forget ourselves to lend our heart to this person who is hurting. But because we are Christians preparing to receive the newborn King into our lives, we know what we have to do. Our God left the bliss of heaven to enter our untidy world as one of us, because He knew we needed Him. Can we be images of His compassion to those around us, even at inopportune moments?
That little innkeeper had it right. May the Christ of Christmas find His Bethlehem in each of us, no matter the disguise in which He comes. Then our Advent will have been fruitful and our Christmas will be holy.
In the name of Jesus, today and always,
Mother Marie Julie
and the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady,
Mother of the Church
“With Mary, our lives continually proclaim the greatness of the Lord and the joy experienced in rendering service to Him.”

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