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The waiting is almost over! For all of us! My family included.

We decided to let my eight-year-old decorate for Christmas this year since we are in our sparsely furnished rental, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the renovations on our home to be finished. A three-month-long project has turned into a nine month marathon of “camping out” until it is completed.

What an air of excitement and anticipation she has created with some strands of lights, a roll of toilet paper hanging from the ceiling like snow, and a few Christmas decorations! You can’t help but notice that something is up. You can’t sit, stand, or walk without bumping into a reminder that JESUS IS ON HIS WAY!

As I get ready for the big day, one of my meditation practices is to place myself into the Christmas story and see who I can relate to in the scene. One of my favorite re-tellings of the story is a poem by Jesuit Fr. Michael Moynahan called In the Outhouse taken from the book Hearts on Fire, Praying with Jesuits, edited by Michael Harter SJ....a wonderful Christmas gift for your friends or yourself! Get it here:

As I read it, I ask myself:

Am I like Joseph-- rushing around to find a place for baby Jesus to be born--knocking on doors, telling anyone who will listen…”He is coming!” Am I willing to obey God, no matter the cost, even at the expense of my own reputation?

Am I like the Innkeeper-- is there NO ROOM for Him in my heart, in my life? Do I brush people off because I’m too busy with “stuff?”

Am I like the Innkeeper’s wife in this poem who has compassion, finds a place, and allows Jesus to be born “under my roof?” What a blessing not only for me-- but for the WHOLE WORLD when I allow the Savior to be born in me.

Am I like Jesus-- just waiting to get out into this world to serve and to love-- to love even those who are unkind, or hostile to my love?

I have to keep reminding myself of this over the holidays, as I seek to please the KING and serve Him alone. If I give of myself only to be expecting something in return, disappointment and bitterness will be my reward.

Or am I like the Blessed Virgin Mary FULL OF FAITH, FULL OF HOPE, FULL OF THANKFULNESS for EVERYTHING? She is loving, encouraging and kind...even to Joseph despite his apparent “lack of planning!” Can I say in my heart, in my face, with my life “MAGNIFICENT!” - no matter WHAT or HOW LITTLE I am given? Can I say that what GOD has provided is truly enough… no matter how meager it may seem in my estimation?

Where do you find yourself in the poem? May God give you the grace to say “MAGNIFICENT!” (no matter what!) this Christmas.

In the Out House - Michael Moynahan SJ

It’s been a long,

dusty ride.

A steep and winding road

weaves serpentine

up the side of mountains.

They race the sun

with prospects of a new head to tax,

albeit a small one,

an impending certainty.

Sky and mother

are visual proof.

They reach the city


but full of hope.

The husband,

mistaken on occasion

for her father,

fails to act his age

and dashes toward

a door about to close.

“Excuse me.

Could you give me a room for the night?

Some place to lay our heads?”

“Can’t you read, buster?

We’re all filled up.”

I understand.

It’s my wife.

she’s about to have her first child.”

“That’s not my problem.”

“He’s not a problem.

He’s a fact

of life.”

“Open you ears, buddy,

because I’m only

gonna say this once.

We ain’t got no room.

So scram!”

“I understand”

is drowned

by the sound of a

slammed door.

Three times he will try

to find them lodging.

And with each failure

feel less capable

of caring for his wife

and that life within her

wanting out.

“It doesn’t look good.

All their rooms are taken.”

“Don’t worry.

God will provide.”

And all the time thinking:

“That’s what I’m afraid of.

They’re sorry

but they’re full.

It’s looking bleak.”

“God will give us

what we need.”

He shakes his head.

She believes this

and it comforts him little.

The third stop

looking like a

distant bleak relation

of the previous two.

Until the owner’s wife

spies the young girl wince

from a movement she understands

all too well.

“You can have the place out back.

It isn’t much

but it will be a roof

over your heads.

There’s fresh hay thrown.

The animals won’t bother you

and the child will be warm.

I’ll get some rags and water.

Go on now,

the mother

and baby

are waiting.”


the young girl’s face



“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

Heavenly Father,

Please give me a heart full of thankfulness and praise for You! Please don’t let me slip into allowing “stuff” to get in the way of people. Grant me the grace to always make room for Jesus, especially now. I want a heart like Joseph’s, seeking and telling others of You. I desire to be like Jesus, to love-- no matter what the return is. I want a faith like Mary’s, knowing that You will provide and what You provide will be more than enough…it will be MAGNIFICENT! Give me YOU this Christmas and the grace to be content...with You.

I ask this in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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