Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 22, 2003
In our lives, there is no room at the inn
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
"His place is with those others for whom there is no room."
- Thomas Merton
The birth of Jesus reverses Darwin's famous evolutionary principle: God's concern, unlike nature's, is not about the survival of the fittest, but about the survival of the weakest. God has a privileged presence in the powerless.
Why? Not because the poor are morally superior to the rich; but, if Scripture is to be believed, because the poor more easily make a place for God in their lives. Their stables and mangers are more available for God's birth than are our homes, condos and hospitals - not to mention our boardrooms, talk shows, college classrooms, sports arenas and other centres of influence. Within virtually everything that our world judges to be important, there is no space for Christ to be born.
That's a message our culture needs to hear. It's not so much that we're insincere, ungenerous or morally deficient. Sincerity, generosity and moral fibre abound, even among the rich. Over all, we're good- hearted. The problem is more that we are star-struck, celebrity-obsessed, too-much convinced that God's real blessing lies in being forever young, forever rich, forever good-looking, forever healthy, forever talented, forever important, forever busy, forever productive, forever admired and forever entitled to have something interesting to do.
The seduction of all of this, which so much drives our culture and our souls, is the most powerful narcotic the world has yet produced. Like all narcotics, it's not so much a question of morality as of reality. It tends to make everything far, far from real.
And it also makes the crib hard to find. As the Christmas stories make plain, the God who was born into this world at the first Christmas and who is still trying to take on real flesh in our world cannot easily be found in the places where we - the young, rich, attractive, important, busy, productive, healthy and talented - do our stuff. And it's more our busyness than our badness that's the problem.
In our lives and in our world, perennially, there's no room at the inn, no place to welcome the God who wants to be born there.
The Christ-child then, as at the first Christmas, must be born outside our city, among the poor, in places where we can find him only by letting ourselves be led by the poor, the children or by some other guiding star.
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