I was reading a brilliant reflection by Blessed Bishop Fulton Sheen about the scene in the Nativity story where Joseph and Mary are seeking shelter in Bethlehem just before Jesus’ birth.
As I meditated upon Bishop Sheen’s words, three hidden meanings, or secrets, emerged regarding the phrase “There is no room in the inn.”
And if you are anything like me, I am sure your knowledge of these secrets will be sure to bring you lasting peace, joy and happiness long past Christmas.
The Inn represents the gathering of public opinion, a place for all the worldly attitudes and behaviors concerning how we should live our lives.
But God doesn’t want us to concern ourselves with popular opinion or passing fads.
We shouldn’t waste our time on the opinions of others, using our talents for things not worthy of them, or spending our resources on passing fancies that “rust and moth will eventually destroy.”
So the first secret for us to know is that we are to concern ourselves only with things that are lasting—things of beauty, goodness and truth.
Because when we pursue the things that are good, true and beautiful, we find that we are no longer anxious or worried, but are filled with great peace.
The inn also represents the place where the rich and comfortable, or the “in crowd” gathers. It’s the location for those who are “someone,” or who knows someone that has the resources to afford a place in the Inn.
The inn is definitely not for anyone who is an immigrant, or poor, or homeless, or living on the margins of society.
So the second secret is that God desires to gather with the outcasts, the ignored, the forgotten.
For me, that gives me great hope and fills me with joy.
Because at some point during our lives, I am sure that you have known what it is to be an outcast. Or ignored. Or forgotten.
I know I have.
The practice of any inn is to lock its doors at night to protect its “important” customers.
In the case of Joseph and Mary, the locked doors of the inn caused them to seek shelter in the most unlikeliest of places—a stable.
And it was in a stable that the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Creator of the entire Universe, was born.
And this brings us to the third secret—divinity is always where you least expect to find it.
And whenever I have opened the eyes of my heart, this has been my experience.
So this Christmas, I invite you to look for God in the people and places where you might least expect to find Him.
Perhaps in the busyness of the airport or in the traffic jam as you are traveling.
Maybe it’s in the encounters with those around—your neighbor, the checkout cashier, the mail delivery person, the person ringing the bell outside the grocery store, or the person standing on the street corner asking for donations.
Or maybe in the eyes of family and friends as you gather around the tree or dinner table.
Wherever it may be, just keep your eyes and heart open, and God will always show up in the people and places that you least expect—just like He did long ago in Bethlehem.
Experiencing Peace, Joy And Happiness Long Past Christmas
So how can these three secrets help you experience peace, joy and happiness long past Christmas?
That to find lasting peace, we must concern ourselves only with things that are lasting—things of beauty, goodness and truth.
That God desires to gather with the outcasts, the ignored, the forgotten. And this should be a source of lasting joy for each of us.
That divinity is always where you least expect to find it. So when we open our eyes and heart to the unexpected presence of God in our life, we have found an unending source of happiness.
These are the precious gifts that our Lord and Savior desires to give us this Christmas, and are far more valuable than any you may find under your tree this year.
So, let us rejoice that there was no room at the inn!
And let us rejoice that in the midst of these tragic circumstances, our Lord and Savior was born—Emmanuel—“God with us.”
Let us rejoice indeed!
Christina Semmens is a Roman Catholic author, blogger, speaker and mentor. She currently lives in Fort Payne, Alabama where she strives to live out a life of authentic discipleship in the pursuit of holiness while encouraging, teaching and accompanying others in striving to do the same. You can listen to her podcast, find her on Facebook @sayyestoholiness, or sign up for her weekly newsletter. To find out more about Christina and her ministry efforts, go to www.sayyestoholiness.com.