Christmas Eve 2014
Yesterday, while working on one of the Christmas messages, I refound a wonderful devotional in my files. For the next few days I am going to edit and excerpt it here. The source that I have is itself adapted from the book Little by Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day.
Day herself is a controversial figure. Her long career as a writer, social activist, editor of the Catholic worker, her socialist leanings, her one-time involvement with the communist party, her multiple early affairs and even an abortion, all this coupled with her conversion to Catholicism make for schizophrenic reading. You can find almost anything you want to find it her various and conflicting opinions. Early on she advocated for violence in support of the poor. Later she writes as a confirmed pacifist. She is, to put it mildly, confusing.
Confused as she may be at times, the meditation below is wonderful. It’s going to be a three-day process of putting it up here but I hope you will hang around for the whole series. It’s worth it. The entire meditation flows from the text in Luke that tells us there was no room in the inn for Mary and her Messiah-child and coupled with the Messiah’s own word in Matthew 25:40:
“And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes
and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
(Luke 2:7, ESV)
And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,
you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:40, ESV, cf. verses 31-40)
Room for Christ
It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts.
But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the yes of store clerks, factory workers, and children he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who ask for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ.
We can do now what those who knew him in the days of his flesh did. . . . All that the friends of Christ did for him in his lifetime, we can do. Peter’s mother-in-law hastened to cook a meal for Christ, and if anything in the Gospels can be inferred, it surely is that she gave the very best she had, with no thought of extravagance. Matthew made a feast for him, inviting the whole town, so that the house was in an uproar of enjoyment, and the straight-laced Pharisees–the good people–were scandalized.
The people of Samaria, despised and isolated were overjoyed to give him hospitality, and for days he walked and ate and slept among them. And the loveliest of all relationships in Christ’s life, after his relationship with his mother, is his friendship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus and the continual hospitality he found with them. It is a staggering thought that there were once two sisters and a brother whom Jesus looked on almost as his family and where he found a second home, where Martha got on with her work, bustling around in her house-proud way, and Mary simply sat in silence with him.
If we hadn’t got Christ’s own words for it, it would seem raving lunacy to believe that if I offer a bed and food and hospitality to some man or woman or child, I am replaying the part of Lazarus or Martha or Mary, and that my guest is Christ. There is nothing to show it, perhaps. There are no halos already glowing around their heads–at least none that human eyes can see. (to be continued the day after Christmas)
- How will you cultivate this mindset, “every person I meet is an opportunity to serve Christ”?
- How can you use your “stuff” to show hospitality to others in your world?