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Devoted pilgrims wander, and settle down to have a baby

by davesandel on December 17th, 2021

Friday, December 17, 2021                                         (today’s lectionary)

Devoted pilgrims wander, and settle down to have a baby

May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun his name shall remain. In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

At Las Posadas we listened to the priest, dressed in white, describe our procession and what was about to happen. He spoke in Spanish, so I didn’t understand. But I was with George and his mother, who did understand. Hundreds of kids surrounded us, along with their parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts. Without accompaniment, we began to sing.

“In the name of Heaven I ask of you shelter, for my beloved wife can go no farther.”

(But do the devils behind the doors listen? NO!)

There’s no inn here, go on with you, I can’t open up – you might be a rogue!

“We’re weary from traveling from Nazareth. I am a carpenter by the name of Joseph.”

(That was a mistake, telling them his name.)

We don’t care who you are, let us sleep. I already told you, we’re not going to open!

Richard Rohr talked about devotion this week in his Tuesday reflection. “We have to somehow live a life that’s connected to the heart.” He said he has learned this kind of devotion from “good old-time Catholics and healthy evangelicals. They are invariably heart-based people who look out at reality with soft eyes.”

Our journey continues across the churchyard, across the town of Bethlehem. “I ask you for lodging, dear man of the house. Just for one night, for the Queen of Heaven.”

(Yo, Joseph! Don’t exaggerate.)

Well! If it’s a queen who asking for it, why does she travel all alone and in the night?

And of course in the darkness they cannot see her eyes. Fr. Rohr continues, “We can usually see their devotion in their calm face or the natural smile on their lips before they even start talking. Trust that first impression. It is seldom wrong.”

Joseph was the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Joseph is getting desperate. Mary’s labor pains have begun. They have reached the edge of town. He looks up at this last innkeeper and his wife.

“My wife is Mary, she’s the Queen of Heaven. She is going to be the mother of the Divine Word.”

And they see in his face his devotion to Mary, and to God.

Are you Joseph? Your wife is Mary? Enter, pilgrims, we did not recognize you.

Eres u Jose? Tu esposa es Maria? Entren, peregrinos, no los conocla.

Earlier, George, his mom and I shared our evening meal at the Peace Bakery & Deli, a Palestinian restaurant near the Austin Soccer Stadium and even nearer St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, site of our Las Posadas.

The café music on this warm night took us across the sea to Jerusalem. The lamb lasagna, chicken shawarma, hummus, pita bread and pickled beets brought us to our knees. Forkfuls of tabouli – cracked wheat, parsley, onions, mint, lemon and olive oil – accompanied everything. We could sit and eat all night beside the fire, under the waxing moon, but Mary must find a place to have her baby.

Joseph is so grateful for the stable. “May God repay, kind people, your charity, and thus heaven heap happiness upon you.”

Blessed is the house that shelters this day the purest Virgin, the beautiful Mary.

And blessed are the pure of heart. Richard Rohr writes, “It’s having achieved a purity of intention, desire, and motivation that isn’t about me – about how I look and whether people are going to like me or affirm me. We are all attracted to those loving people who are concerned about others more than themselves, and concerned about us specifically. It’s really quite beautiful.”

Joseph and Mary are welcomed in. All of us, all in the congregation are invited in as well. The gates swing wide open. The feast is about to begin.

Mary and Joseph? Jesus? These last innkeepers, recognizing God on their doorstep? “We feel softened, we feel held, we feel more tender around people like that.”

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