As I cherish the wonderful experiences on the day of love, peace, giving and forgiving, a profound message at the Christmas Mass last mid-night re-enters my mind. This message not only gave me a new perspective to the attitude and behaviour of the Inn keeper, it made me realise that peoples thinking and action can have a higher purpose that we may not understand, and therefore makes us misunderstand them.
We’ve grown up hearing the account that the “inn” in Bethlehem was full, with no “room” available, so Joseph and Mary ended up in a stable, with Jesus Christ born and laid in a manger there. This image has been used to promote the typical Christmas nativity scene for generations.
The typical translation of Luke 2:7 says about Mary giving birth to Jesus, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (New King James Version).
The sermon last night gave a perspective that I had not heard earlier. The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and the Greek word translated “inn” here is kataluma. It means a place of rest, usually a guest room. While this does not explain if this is a guest room for a family or a larger room for many, the priest last night suggested that it was a large room where many travellers rest. The inn keeper realized that there was no privacy for a woman to give birth with all the people around her. Therefore, the only place of privacy he could think about was the cattle shed.
In fact, the inn keeper was thinking and acting with respect for a woman, a mother to be, a human being, without knowing that she was carrying Jesus Christ. This made me think how quick I had been to judge the inn keeper as a bad person, while the inn keeper was in fact living the Christmas nativity with the spirit of Christmas, love, care, kindness and generosity.
The lesson I take from this is that we don’t know why people think and act the way they do. If we can give them the benefit of the doubt, try to get in to their shoes and see, hear and feel the situation from their reality, would we understand differently?
So, let’s give this gift of love to ourselves and others, during this season of love, by thinking compassionately about those who acted in a manner that hurt us, made us angry, made us doubt them, and made us lose trust in them, in the past. Let’s do this unconditionally, giving the benefit of the doubt to others, even without trying to understand whose fault it was. Magical things can happen like what happened 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. When we give love a chance, we crate space in our lives for miracles to happen.
My blog posts of the last nine months addressed the impact of violence, religion, politics, sports, professions, stress, releasing and the subconscious on the lives of people and how to respond from the frame of purposefulness. We continue to explore purposefulness, this time in relation to love.
I hope this short blog post inspires you to find ways of making sense and dealing with experiences and struggles you encounter trying to live purposefully.
I wish you purposeful living!