Feast of the Holy Family
I’d like you to imagine yourself in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. You are a stable-master. Your boss, the owner of the inn, tells you to quickly get a space ready in the stable for a couple of human visitors, one of whom is pregnant. So you clean up a space, put some fresh straw all around, and set up a manger for the baby about to be born.
Soon Mary and Joseph arrive at the stable door and you let them in. You feel proud to be able to provide space for the birth of their child. You provide some heat and even some food. Everything is cozy. Soon the baby is born. And angels start singing.
But wait. Someone left the door open. Others are coming in. So you run to close the door. Opps, you can’t. The door is missing!
Now there’s a crowd pouring in, — the downtrodden, the hungry, the lonely, and the poor. People with anxious hearts, with hands outstretched and longing in their eyes.
You try to hold them back but they are coming in waves, pushing and shoving one another. They are coming from all over town, from all over the country, from all parts of the worlds. They seem numberless.
Some come bending under heavy loads of injustice, sorrow and sin. They drag behind them depression and sadness. Others come with smiles, shining with beauty, talent, and love.
Where will you put them all? How will you feed them all? You look around and see that Gabriel and his amazing angels are adding additions to the stable and all are finding a place. All are at home. All are at peace.
You go over to the crib. You say to the baby, “What’s going on?” The baby Jesus speaks. “My friend, did you not know that when you welcome me, you welcome all who come with me? I am the Incarnate God. We are one.”
Is it just a story? No, there really is such a stable. The stable is each and every one of our hearts. And we are the stable-masters, the ones in charge. Jesus wants to come and make his home in our hearts.
First, there may be some cleaning up to do. We may need to get rid of anger, lust, prejudice, selfishness and unforgiveness. Once we get rid of all the smelly straw, somehow there seems to be room for all. The walls of our heart expand and expand, so all find a home.
Amazing thing about love. The more we give it away, the more we have of it. May the Holy Family be at home in our hearts this day and always.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/