Wednesday, December 17, 2014

“No Room”: How To Make Space for God

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With Thanksgiving being so late this year and Christmas fast approaching, it’s difficult to figure out how to make room in our lives for everything that has to get done before the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  This is particularly true when things don’t go according to plan.

The Christmas story, as told in the Gospel of Luke, tells us that Mary and Joseph had no place to stay, “…because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:7).  I imagine the innkeeper prepared for the census and knew he’d be full; he wasn’t prepared to accommodate a pregnant woman about to give birth.
Imagine our blessed Mother.  Pregnancy certainly wasn’t in her plans.  She was betrothed to Joseph.  This would change EVERYTHING.  What would people say?  How would Joseph react?  What did this mean for her life?

Having our plans change outside of our control can happen at any time.  I know it’s happened to me.  A few years ago in early December, my husband called me from the doctor’s office saying, “the doctor wants to admit me…he may have to take part of my foot.”  Everything stops for a moment—  what you were making for dinner, the Christmas shopping you had carefully scheduled over the next few all goes out the window.

Sometimes, it’s not so much the big issues, or even the catastrophic life events, that interrupt our plans, but those little everyday things that can disturb our peace: the co-worker who wants our time when we are working on a project, the child who doesn’t know when to stop talking, the traffic jam when we’re already running late.

We can learn much from our heavenly Mother and her response to God’s invitation.  By her “yes” to the Angel Gabriel, Mary surrendered her will to God, cooperating with his plan.  And oh, what great things he did for her!  This did not mean that she did not suffer; we know she suffered tremendous sorrow and pain.  This did not mean that she didn’t have hardships or worry.

What we learn from Mary is that true, ultimate happiness rests, not in trying to conform God’s will to ours, but our will to God’s will for us.  This means actually and firmly deciding each morning to make God the Number One Priority in our lives, so that every other good takes a back seat to this.  It also means each evening, thanking God for having helped us whenever we put him first and asking forgiveness for the times we didn't. We don't need to worry about sacrificing the best things in life, because God will then make our concerns his own. Wonderful things will begin to happen.  Mary made room in her life for what God willed for her and she bore a Son who redeemed the world.

While angels do not invite us to participate in God’s work as they did Mary, every day we are invited to “make room” for God by conforming our will to his in the big and little moments of our lives.  We can do this by stopping to listen to an upset co-worker or family member, by being patient when we are sitting in traffic, or by adjusting our plans to accommodate another who needs our help.

Mary was sinless.  She was very close to God, but when he invited her to bear His Son, she did not understand how this could be.  “How can this be, since I have no husband?” (LK 1:34).  Despite the mystery surrounding the Incarnation, she trusted, because she was close to God. 

The same is true for us. We must develop a close relationship with God, that helps us to be more open to trusting in God’s plan for us and uniting our will to his, even when his way seems very different from what we had in mind. We have to make room for God in our everyday lives—in prayer, in the sacraments, in the quiet moments throughout our day, in responding with charity to those who are placed in our path. 

By making room in the “inn” of our soul, we can truly prepare the way of the Lord and prepare to rejoice at the birth of the Savior.
“Jesus Christ is going to come to us as the Way, the Truth, and the Life: ‘Make ready the way of the Lord’....Am I preparing to receive Jesus as he comes into the world, that is, as the Way to every holiness, the Master of truth, and the life of the soul? Do I feel the need for him?” (Blessed James Alberione, SSP)
Bernadette Boguski has been a Pauline Cooperator for over 20 years. She is a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma, OH, where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, cantor, and member of the music ministry. Bernadette holds a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and currently serves as the development director for Womankind, a nonprofit agency providing free prenatal care and support services for pregnant women in need.

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