It’s 2015 and There is Still No Room for Jesus

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in cloths,
and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
– Luke 2:7

As a little girl, every time I heard this verse read on Christmas Eve, I felt appalled. Who wouldn’t make room for Mary and Joseph? Who could possibly turn them away? I always liked to think that if I was an innkeeper 2,000 years ago that I would have welcomed Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus with open arms. Yet, my adult self knows that I probably wouldn’t have.

So, how do we continuously turn Jesus away?

We turn Jesus away when exclude the “nerdy” or “weird” guy from our lunch table.

We turn Jesus away when we pass the homeless woman on the street, thinking she’s lazy.

From Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/84346589@N00/3240054551

From Flickr user drburtoni

Jesus gets turned away when a pregnant woman gets fired from her teaching job because she is not married. (Think of how horribly we would treat Mary today.)

Jesus gets turned away when gay and lesbian couples who love one another are refused a marriage license.

Jesus gets turned away when a police officer uses excessive force on a person because of the color of his skin.

We turn Jesus away when we gossip about a colleague behind her back.

Jesus gets turned away when we make fun of someone who is mentally or physically disabled.

Jesus gets turned away when our schools and workplaces are not welcoming toward women and persons of color.

Jesus gets turned away when we approach persons struggling with mental illness with judgment, instead of compassion.

Jesus gets turned away when we ignore sexual assault, and blame the woman by calling her a “slut” or “whore.” (Jesus also gets turned away when we dismiss the fact that issues like sexual assault, domestic violence, and eating disorders also affect men).

Jesus gets turned away when we place limitations on people and expect them to act a certain way based on the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than letting them be who they are.

From Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eldad75/5768055585/

From Flickr user Eldad Hagar

Jesus gets turned away when we mistreat an animal.

We turn Jesus away when we take out our phone instead of talking to our mother, father, or friend who is sitting across from us.

We turn Jesus away when we focus too much on gaining accolades and being the best in our field instead of helping people.

We turn Jesus away when we spend too much time worrying about having the latest gadgets and not enough time telling those around us that we love them.

Jesus gets turned away when we make disparaging remarks about another person’s body, calling them out for being “too fat” or “too skinny.”

We turn Jesus away when we post pictures on Facebook knowing they may hurt someone who was excluded from our night out.

Jesus gets turned away when we degrade a woman wearing a hijab, instead of seeking to learn more about her religion.

Jesus gets turned away when cases of sexual abuse by priests are covered up by those in authority.

Jesus gets turned away when Democrats and Republicans attack one another instead of trying to work together and respecting each other as human beings with different political opinions.

We turn Jesus away whenever we think we have all the answers, and fail to listen to and learn from different cultures, religions, and experiences.

mangerIt’s 2015. Jesus has still not been made welcome in our world. Welcoming Jesus is going to take more than just signing declarations and supporting causes on Facebook, it’s going to take changing our day-to-day interactions with God’s people. It is not going to be easy either. We may get condemned for welcoming Jesus from members of our family, our friends, our co-workers, and even our religious leaders. But what do you say? Let’s work on making more room for Jesus in our lives this year. Jesus is present in every single person—we just need to take the opportunity to find him and open our hearts to him. How about making 2015 the year that we say YES when Jesus comes knocking?

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Categories: The Tough Questions

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9 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Look At It This Way… and commented:
    This blog post has come to my attention at a propitious time. I began this blog with a political focus. Everything flowed nicely for a while as I expounded various ideas for political change, but then it kind of petered out. I kept resolving to revive it, but got nowhere. Then over Christmas another thought came to me; I am a Christian, a Roman Catholic to be precise, and that colours the way that I look at the world. Should I blog from that perspective? While I was mulling this over, this arrived in my mailbox from a Jesuit site I subscribe to. Whether you are “religious” or not, I think it food for thought. And at the same time it fits the title of this blog.

  2. Really? Jesus gets turned away when gay and lesbian couples who love one another are refused a marriage license.

    Sorry, I disagree. I think Jesus get turned away when we judge, discriminate or otherwise mistreat LGBT individuals. Last time I checked the term marriage belongs to the union between a man and a woman before God.

    We are constantly talking about the dangers of relativism, where anything goes. Like our Pope said: who am I to judge? But I am a son (daughter) of the Church.

    Thanks, Maggie

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. I agree with Maggie. Jesus is turned away when we decriminate gay or lesbian people. I don’t judge them . But marriage is a union between a man and a woman. And that’s the teaching of the church.

  4. I too agree with Maggie—we can demonstrate compassion to all who we meet on our life’s walk regardless of their chosen or “forced” paths in life— if they are living a life outside of the realm of the word of God, it is for us to offer compassion and direction in love—God was very clear and specific when He gave us the gift of marriage and family–about the parameters and guidelines—a covenant or law.
    As Mother Teresa taught us by her example—she did not agree with the Hindu or Muslim faiths but yet when he saw Muslims, Hindus, atheists in need, she picked them up, cleaned, nursed, fed and even buried those of the other faiths because it was the right thing to do—Choosing to act in love and with compassion does not mean that we are agreeing with life choices which go against the word of God, but we witness to these folks with and by our actions.
    It is not for us to rewrite God’s covenant and laws–it is for us to follow and obey our Heavenly Father and to act out toward our fellow man as He instructed—with love and compassion–that is our witness

  5. I loved this post. It has been an inspiration for this Sunday’s sermon in my parish. Of course I will attribute the source. Please keep writing!

    Pam Strobel+ missioner

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  6. Thank you all for your comments. I do recognize that the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, it is not a teaching I personally can accept. Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, once stated that “over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.” Catholic dogma has also been professed from particular contexts and solely from the perspective of an all-male celibate hierarchy. Dogma must be constantly re-interpreted and we must always be listening to the Holy Spirit. In a world where same-sex couples take care of one another in sickness, give to charity and serve their communities, provide loving homes for children, I cannot in good conscience believe that they do not make a sacramental union. If upholding human dignity is the criterion for our praxis, I believe we cannot fail to recognize the loving bonds made by same-sex couples. They must not be made to feel like second-class citizens in our parishes and communities. After all, Jesus was not a messiah who met expectations. He was born to a woman not pregnant by her husband, raised by her and a man who was not his biological father. He broke with tradition, conversing with a Samaritan woman, healing on the Sabbath, associating with those who were considered “unclean.” He made a lot of people angry! He did not shy away from doing or say what was controversial in the name of neighborly love.

  7. I’m with you, Kate. Scripture is full of examples of the need to follow God’s leading rather than the will of others. We are sometimes called to follow God in the teeth of stiff opposition from the majority, even the majority of other Christians. The dogmas of the church – any church, not just Roman Catholic – are simply one of the many, many ways in which God can direct our path.
    As CS Lewis wrote of Aslan, “he’s not a tame lion you know…” now we _all_, including popes and bishops, see dimly as if through smokey glass (St Paul) – then we will see face to face, and will _all_ discover just how right – and how wrong – we’ve been.

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