I run a good business, a cozy bed and breakfast in Bethlehem. I pay my taxes. I don’t cheat anyone. I have nothing to be ashamed of. So, why have I been upset and confused lately?
It all started on a cold, dark night. We were packed with out-of-town customers. The mood was dark with talk of rebellion. After all, no one likes being forced to travel just for a census. Yet time, a few drinks and the opportunity to renew friendships lifted everyone’s spirits and the atmosphere soon became more festive.
Business was good — almost too good. The Inn was filled to capacity, so people were forced to sleep in the streets. Our supplies of food and drink were critically low.
Later that night, two travelers approached me: a young man and his obviously pregnant wife. They both looked exhausted. The young man was polite enough. “Please sir, we have come a long way and need a room. Can you help us?”
I turned away others without a thought but the look of panic in the man’s eyes and the young girl’s condition made me pause. “There must be somewhere I can put them.” But sadly, there was no room and I was forced to tell them: “I’m sorry.”
But something about the young woman’s face made me pause; she looked so calm and serene. “Wait a minute,” I blurted out. “There’s a stable around back with an empty stall. I can add a little fresh straw and you will at least have shelter.” Why was I so concerned about the welfare of this young couple?” After preparing their area, I left without even asking them for money.
With the frantic pace of the evening, I soon forgot about the young couple.
“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)
The frantic banging on the front door began just as I was finally falling asleep. One of the shepherds in a nearby field said, “You must come at once to see the baby. She has sent for you.”
“Baby? What baby?” Remembering the young couple, I realized what was going on. “It’s just a baby.” I thought. “I’ve seen babies before.” But I went with the shepherds. What a beautiful sight! With the couple were more shepherds and animals. Mary was gently rocking the baby. Then the baby quietly smiled and looked up at me. His eyes seemed to know me, to see clear through to my very soul. Never have I seen such a child. How could this newborn baby affect me so?
Something happened that night. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a businessman, not a priest but seeing that child weighed on me. I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying about where my life is going. With God’s help, I want to change:
• Become more generous in my giving and look for opportunities to help others.
• Treat my employees with respect and pay what they earn, not what I can get by with.
• Spend more time at home with my wife and children.
• Pray regularly for my family, for others, for my community.
What about you? How will seeing the Christ-child effect you? Peter said: “As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!” (2 Peter 1:3) Seeing Jesus changed this innkeeper forever. How will seeing Christ change you? Like the innkeeper, may you see the Christ-child and be transformed! May God richly bless your journey of faith.