Lack of space for Jesus, was lack of space for God in the heart of the people. It stands for this Christmas too.
We, as believers, are once again being fondly invited to the banquet-table of a Redemptive Incarnation and in the garden of our heart there unfolds, like the fragrant December Lilies, a full bunch of reminiscences of this historic event. As we engage ourselves in creating cribs, setting star-lights, lining up, in newly sewn attires holding burning candles, at the church-courtyard for the midnight-holy ceremonies and preparing delicious edibles, let us pause a while and ask ourselves:
Is there a little space available, in our heart, for the Baby Jesus?
The effulgent flame of the Blessed Birth of the Lord is one that throws beams of light upon contradictions of manifold kind. We, fragile humans, can only stand amazed at each of them: theâ€™ Millionaire-Godâ€™ becomes a â€˜bankrupt-humanâ€™!; the Sacred One assumes the form of a profane transgressor!; the sole Sustainer of the entire universe, renouncing the riches above, takes birth in a mere manger!; the Son of God becomes the Servant of servants!, and above all, as the Gospel testifies, the First-born Son of the Creator-God is deprived of a little space to be born in, even in an inn (Lk. 2:7).
Bethlehem, that day, was exceptionally noisy with the preparations for Census. Roads and rest-houses grew overcrowded. No one there wished to be a host to another. Everyone had amply rehearsed to pretend to be a stranger to the other. Was it not for the same reason that Joseph, a poor country carpenter and Mary, his expecting and weary wife were left orphans there at that chill nightfall? Yet, disregarding the scorching sorrows ruthlessly offered by each of the slammed doors and sour-soaked insults, they moved ahead through those busy streets, looking for a square-foot of soil for the Nazarene.
But, neither a mansion nor a decent dwelling, on the surface of the earth, was set apart for Him, the Lord of the land, the seas and the skies! The Saviour-God, hence, was born on a grass-mattress in a manger! No door lay wide open for Him who came as the WAY; no inn gifted a little space to Him who was born as the TRUTH, and no emperors or mobs marched up to shout praises to Him who flushed forth as the Fountain of everlasting LIFE! There was lack of space for God. Blessed, of course, were those simple shepherds on the hillside to whom was given the fortune to worship the new-born Child and those breezes and stars in the sky that lulled Him to slumber in that snowy yet holy night!
The dark world of ours, today, is busy with scripting the screenplay of haste and hurry. People of the present generation prefer to settle themselves on the shore of the turbulent ocean of haste. The earth-dwellers, to a great extent, caught in the octopus grip of a deadly consumerist culture that degrades parents as obsessions, kith and kin as booms, relatives as abominable liabilities and neighbours as ill-omens, seem to be growing excessively fond of playing what one may call â€˜dumb-dancesâ€™. The farther the human race advances in the spheres of science and technology, the less it becomes aware of its rapidly shrinking noble values and virtues.
Today our relationship with one another is minimized to mere phone-calls; acquaintances vanish at the flash of short smiles and conversations hide themselves behind occasional head-nods! We no more have either space or time at our disposal to host and accommodate our own near and dear ones in the inn of our lives. The twenty-four hours of a full day and night seem to be insufficient for the varying and hectic transactions of our daily living. Children of the present often stand empty of mindfulness and filial affection to look after and light up the setting days of their aging parents who brought them to sunshine and toiled hard to provide for them. A good majority of us is enslaved by our insensitive senses that ignore and take pleasure even, in the mishaps at our neighbourhoods.
There, of course, prevailed a time when our handkerchief remained soaked in the overflowing tears of our sorrowing fellow beings; a time when our hands grew stronger to help those drowning in the whirlpool of misfortune to get out of it; a time when our little huts were spacious enough to render asylum to one more homeless lot, and a time when the crops of compassion and care got heaped up in abundance in the granary of our heart! But how different are this world and its residents! Noble values are demoted; broadmindedness is as rare as precious gems; faith-life grows shallower; face of the earth looks deformed and the wicks of mercy in human eyes begin to flicker and die out!
People love to be content within their wellÂlocked glasshouses built in isolated islands. Many of us, regularly humiliating and avoiding the empty hands and swollen eyes of the abandoned and poor, choose to conveniently take a different route. Narrow and shadowy corridors are very often our choices. The fast-multiplying epidemics and unexpected natural disasters pin at the pleasure, comforts and tranquility of every one without distinction. Financial crises and irregular seasons, with the havocs and miseries they breed, constantly keep pulling people forcefully into the sea-bed of uncertainties and anxieties.
It is amidst the over-influence of these uncommon phenomena that we prepare ourselves, in spirit and gaiety, for the nearing Christmas. If so, itâ€™s an occasion for us to objectively examine our words, deeds and thoughts in both the resonance of our conscience and the limeÂlight of truth. Do we have space for God? Let us learn serious lessons from our faults and falls, generously amend our wrongs and debilities, throw the entrance of our heart broad open for the Lord who waits outside knocking (Rev. 3:20), and re-own a fleshy heart that will ever grow sensitive enough to love and help our fellow brothers and sisters.
May the One, who sanctified the manger at Bethlehem and turned water into wine at Cana, be born in the little cradle of our heart. Then, with Him, we too will be reborn as renewed creations full of finer virtues and holiness and consequently, the Feast of Incarnation will continue to remain an indelibly personal experience in the very core of our being throughout the days to come.
– – – written by Fr. Thomas Pattathilchira, CMF