Room for one more?

In our dining room here in New York, as part of the Christmas decorations, there is a statue of Joseph leading a donkey upon which sits a heavily pregnant Mary. It is the statue which often is associated with a tradition called Las Posadas. Las Posadas is celebrated in Mexico from December 16th until Christmas. Las Posadas literally means “the inns” and is based around a reenactment of Mary and Joseph trying to find lodging at numerous inns and being turned away. As the candlelit procession with Joseph leading Mary on her donkey winds through the streets, the Pilgrims knock on the doors of various houses. They sing the first stanza of the song, and the people behind the closed door reply with the second and so on, back and forth. The pilgrims are turned away several times before they reach the night's chosen house. Here, the householders realize who is really knocking. The final choruses are sung, the door swings wide, and the pilgrims are allowed inside.
The words are as follows:

Joseph: In the name of Heaven
I ask of you shelter,
For my beloved wife
Can go no farther.

Innkeeper:There's no inn here,
Go on with you,
I can't open up
You might be a rogue.

Joseph:We're weary from traveling
from Nazareth.
I am a carpenter
by the name of Joseph.

Innkeeper:I don't care who you are,
Let me sleep.
I already told you
we're not going to open.

Joseph: I ask you for lodging
dear man of the house.
Just for one night
for the Queen of Heaven.

Innkeeper:Well, if it's a queen
who's asking us for it,
why does she travel all alone
and in the night?

Joseph: My wife is Mary
She's the Queen of Heaven
who is going to be the mother
of the Divine Word.

Innkeeper:Are you Joseph?
Your wife is Mary?
Enter, pilgrims;
I did not recognize you.

Joseph: May God repay, kind people,
your charity,
and thus heaven heap
happiness upon you.
Innkeeper: Blessed is the house
that shelters this day
the purest Virgin,
the beautiful Mary.”

Yes, there was no room for Him in the inn that first Christmas. In fact, the only place Jerusalem had for Him was a cross. Even in His death there was no room for Him, for He was buried in a borrowed tomb.Even today there is still little room for the Lord Jesus Christ. If you recall an experience where it was obvious that you were not wanted, you will know that it can be heart-wrenching. It says 'there is no room for you', 'we will not make space', 'go elsewhere'. All of these words are strong and can make a person question their self-worth and their place in the community and social structures. Welcoming the ‘other’ is so important, no matter who they are!

I was so surprised here in the States and in Canada how many people refuse to even use the word 'Christmas', they wish you 'Happy Holidays'. In today's Gospel, we are reminded that Jesus is the Emmanuel. Emmanuel is a beautiful word which means 'God with us'. As the priest during the homily this morning pointed out, it is in the present tense, a promise for now. It is not 'God was with us', or 'God will be with us', it is 'God is with us'. Denying that Christmas is not about Christ is not just refusing Him but it is saying that we don't need Him. There is no place for Him. However Jesus is here, and His name is “Emmanuel” — God with us. God loves you. He knows all about you, and He still loves you. He understands you. He knows your every weakness. He wants to have a relationship with you so much that He suffered, bled, and died for you. The deepest need of your life is met in the One we call Jesus.

As we continue on the journey of Advent, we might need to do some decluttering, make room for Jesus. One of the best ways to do this is to go to Confession. Watch this space for a post about Advent confession! In the meanwhile, listen out for that ‘knock’ on the door!