There was very simply no room for the Lord Jesus Christ in the inn. The inn in Bethlehem was most probably the central meeting place in Bethlehem; where people met to exchange local news, dine together or meet for pleasure. It was also a place where foreign travelers and passersby found lodging. Certainly, such a place, where people from all walks of life both desirous and un-desirous entered and in the midst of all the merriment and noise of the varied guests within, was not suitable for the perfect birth of the baby Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s birth was set aside from the commonly accepted human cultural norms.
We are told neither through the Holy Bible, nor through tradition that St. Joseph had sent ahead for room reservations at the Bethlehem inn to accommodate the needs of his wife being with child. St. Joseph did not provide silk nor fine woolen garments befitting the baby Lord Jesus in anticipation of His Holy Birth. One might argumentatively say that St. Joseph was poor; and that God could have miraculously and instantly produced such. At their faith level, both St. Mary and St. Joseph must have anticipated God’s intervention and provision for His Son as He desired. However, one might pause to inquire: Were any special preparations made at all for the Prince of Peace, the very Son of God? God had determined that a cave would be offered to St. Mary and St. Joseph for the night’s stay in which the baby Lord Jesus would be born..
The Lord Jesus Christ’s birth was set aside from mankind self centeredness.
With St. Mary, in her state of pregnancy, one can assume that the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was indeed a very slow one fraught with the discomfort of being with child. Upon arrival, in all likelihood, St. Mary must have been tired and certainly ready for a restful night. Thus, the need for a place to stay must have been pressing; and the knowledge there was not a place of rest for them at the inn disappointing, devastating and heartbreaking. Greater still must have been the conscious knowledge that the inn patronage was among King David’s lineage; of blood relation to both St. Mary and St. Joseph. However, the Holy Bible Nativity narration does not record that any of St. Joseph’s extended relatives offered him lodging or assistance of any sort to his young pregnant wife.
The Lord Jesus Christ birth was set aside from the extended family of King David’s lineage.
Nowhere is it proclaimed that St. Mary got upset with St. Joseph nor cried in despair for not having had a “proper” room at the inn. Rather most scholars assume that St. Mary was probably grateful for the cave presented to them; and the quietness and seclusion that the cave would have to offer her and to those whom witnessed and assisted her during the immaculate and holy birth of the baby Lord Jesus Christ.
Origen, a pupil of St. Clement of Alexandria, writes of the cave near the village of Bethlehem…
“Let him know that in conformity with the narrative in the Holy Gospel, regarding His birth, there is displayed at Bethlehem the cave where Jesus was born and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. And this sight is greatly talked of in the surrounding places-even among the enemies of the faith. They say that in this cave was born that Jesus who is worshipped and reverenced by the Christians” (c. 248).
The Lord Jesus Christ’s honorable birth was set aside in simplicity and humble quietness.
Through a great light, a glorious angel of the Lord announced to lowly shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flock, that in the City of David, (Bethlehem), a Savior was born who was Christ the Lord. “And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in a swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). The faithful devoted shepherds told the Holy Family about the appearance of the Lord’s angel; and how the sky was filled with angels praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill, toward men!” (Luke 2:14).
The Mother of God, St. Mary said nothing as she listened and marveled at the things spoken of by the shepherds, but silently in thought and words, kept these things in her heart.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s birth was set aside and made known first to the faithful who with open hearts were praying for His coming.
Lying in a manger, the Lord Jesus Christ did not appear rich or powerful. In the hardness of the manger the baby Lord Jesus Christ began his life of sacrifice and humility. In the manger’s true utilization, the Lord Jesus Christ was born lowly. In His swaddling clothes, His poverty was evident. The baby’s cradle was simple, hard, lowly, and humble as would later be his life. Yet the cradle bore perfect Peace.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s birth was set aside in the peace that simplicity brings.
Those who first witnessed the birth and paid homage’ giving their loving and grateful hearts as gifts’ would prove to always be those who would draw close to the Lord Jesus Christ and have room for Him within their hearts. Their special gifts and talents would be paralleled with their humility in His service. As the angel proclaimed earlier, they called the Child Jesus meaning “Savior”. God had become man to save man.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s birth was set aside to save the world.
The Child Jesus and his life alike were to be truly set aside in perfection and set apart from those who will not allow Him in their hearts and lives. One either chooses to accept Christ’s saving grace or not to. There’s still no room in the inn for those who desire to live in a “my needs first” society. There’s no room in the inn for those who live a hurried life, in a multi-tasked world without genuine goals; there is no room in the inn for those who choose to live in a social whirl of events and seasons. There’s still no room in the inn for those who cannot find the time to attend and live the Divine Liturgy in their life, Holy Scripture reading with meditation, and pray from the Agpeya.
We must continually guard against the worldly beckoning, earthly desires; and pace ourselves with fasting, and spiritual preparation, while opening our hearts and lives to the humility, the love, the peace and the purity of the Lord Jesus Christ. His Holy Birth should always find room in our hearts.
St. Clement of Alexandria proclaimed…
“The best thing on earth is the most pious man. The best thing in Heaven, the nearer in place and purer, is an angel, the partaker of the eternal and blessed life. But the nature of the Son, which is nearest to Him who is among the Almighty One, is the most perfect, most holy, most potent, most princely, most kingly, and most beneficent. This is the highest excellence, who orders all things in accordance with the Father’s will and holds the helm of the universe in the best way…The Son of God is never displaced…being always everywhere and being contained nowhere. He is complete mind, complete paternal light. He is all eyes, seeing all things, hearing all things, knowing all things… All the host of angels and gods are placed in subjection to Him. He, the paternal Word, exhibits the holy administration for Him who put all things in subjection to Him” (c. 195).
I pray that this Holy Season of the Glorious Nativity will fill our hearts with the love and peace the Lord Jesus Christ was born to bring unto us all.
Bless the Lord, O you servants of the Lord, Praise Him and exalt Him above all forever.
Abbot, St. Mary and St. Moses Abbey
Corpus Christi, Texas