I hate crowds. I’m a bit claustrophobic and I am not too fond of close quarters with strangers.
There I sat, in Mass with my entire family in tow. We had miraculously gotten there early and had a wonderful seat; an entire pew all to ourselves. Ahhh! I could breath and we even had room for our coats and bags. It was perfect.
As I happily knelt to start my prayers, the organ began to play and, much to my surprise, a rather large woman came and squeezed in-- right next to me. I was a bit taken aback as we were rather cozy on this pew and there were only four people in the row ahead of me. She smiled sweetly and nuzzled in, assuring me that it was all okay. I returned to my prayers. Then, much to my even greater dismay, she signaled to her TWO friends! What?! I thought, “THIS IS MY PEW! I got here early, I have spread out, I have my FAMILY here! What is she doing here?”… and, like I said, there were PLENTY of OTHER SEATS all around!
I began to get angry. I could feel my face flushing and my blood pressure starting to rise… then it happened--
The little tap on the shoulder by God…”So, would you let ME in? Would you make room for ME?”
“Of course I would! What do You mean?”
Wait for it...spiritual download...lights flickering...got it!
“Oh! Okay, Lord, I will make room for them as I would for You.” I said, “but REALLY!?”
Feeling a bit smug for being so gracious, and at the same time still feeling slightly perturbed, I began to bristle once more as the jolly woman sitting right up against began singing...gustily!
“Lord! I have come to try to worship You, I’ve squeezed over--sort of-- and now THIS!?”
Then I got it again…
“Is there really NO ROOM in your heart for ME? It is ADVENT, and you are waiting for me to arrive… and I have come... and have seated myself right next to you, and you are like the Innkeeper. You have a sign on your heart saying, “NO ROOM-- FULL UP-- FULL UP WITH SELF! Even the beasts of Bethlehem did better than this!”
My face began to flush, but this time, not because I was angry, but because I was ashamed of my own behavior. “Oops! You are right Lord. I am very sorry. Thank You for this gift of Yourself in the form of others. Please help me to have a soft heart and welcome them as I would You. Give me love for them and take away any feelings I have of entitlement for this space! It ALL belongs to You! Please forgive me!”
After that, my heart began to warm and I began to sing gustily too. And every time something happened that could have possibly annoyed me… I simply said, “I refuse to be bothered. I choose to choose You, Lord, and love this person as a gift given to me and an opportunity to choose to be loving.”
Love is a choice. We make room for those we love. We make time for those we love. But we must choose to love.
When it is all said and done, we will be judged on how well we loved. Do you have room in your heart for Him?
“And the King will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for Me...’’’ Matthew 25:40.
Oh my goodness! It is very easy to get caught up into my own little world, even in Mass. I am sorry. Help me to see all people as if I am seeing You. Help me to have room in my heart for each one. Please give me the grace to not focus on what annoys me but instead, choose to love. Help me to stretch my heart to make more room for You. And when you come knocking on my heart’s door, let the sign always read..."Welcome.”
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.