There is a saying which goes something like this: "The more insignificant one is, the more easily it is to find a place." This used to be true before the Celtic Tiger made the inhabitants of the Green Isle besotted with money, or before the Protestant Work Ethic which has morphed into idolatry of the rich and famous. Now, those with practically nothing are despised, judged, deemed insane or slothful. I know from experience the judgement of men and women who do not want to face suffering. God had another way of judging. He sees the heart.
Christ was rejected by his own, even as a baby. Imagine the shock of St. Joseph, trying to understand why his charges by God, Mary and Jesus, had to endure the cold of the stable and the shut doors of the very people, the Jews, to whom the Messiah had finally come. Imagine. That is meditation. This is real stuff, not movie shots. How many hotels or b and bs today would take a poor couple about to have a baby?
One never knows when one is entertaining angels and all men are made in the image and likeness of God. But, people's hearts have shrunken to their own image and likeness.
The above phrase has to do with travelling light, as we said in our generation. The nuns at Tyburn have a 48 hour notice as to whether they will go to Columbia, Ecuador, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, England or Rome. St. Paul had a skill in tent-making (yes, he worked as well as preached and wrote) which was a movable skill. I have three suitcases. One for summer, one for winter and one with books. I take one with me. I took one into the convent and left with one and a bag-of notes and diaries.
Most Catholics are so tied down to their places of living and employment that there is no room for travelling light. That may be good, as it is their vocation. But, for some, simplicity is a necessity.
And, it is very hard
. However, as I have learned, there is no suffering without a quiet joy and that joy is being one with Christ as He joins Himself with my suffering. Hard is good, but the hard must be determined by God. We do not choose our suffering, God does. That is why it is important to discern a vocation.
Joseph and Mary, if we meditate, would have been planning their trip to Bethlehem at this time. Joseph would be temporarily closing down his shop in order to travel and be ready for the birth of Christ. Mary would have been planning what minimum things she could bring. Like me going on the plane, she did not have money for extra bags. One would suffice. Both had to trust in God the Father and the Holy Spirit who was leading them. Mary had the advantage of being in constant communication with the Indwelling of the Trinity-the first person to whom the Trinity was revealed. Father, Son and Holy Ghost would accompany them to Bethlehem, despite cold, derision, rudeness, and rejection. The Church does not know much about Joseph but he was a man of great faith. Scripture and Tradition give us no knowledge of his heart, mind, soul, except that he was obedient and humble. There are some private revelations, but I do not use those for teaching.
The stable was not a nice place. Animals are not clean. Cute, maybe, but not clean. I grew up in Iowa. One of my uncles had a farm. Cows do not smell nice. Neither do sheep, or dogs, or chickens, or geese. Only cats are clean. At the end of my pregnancy, I would not have wanted to be near
Bethlehem rejected the Christ and the Queen of Heaven and Earth and her Guardian. Do not reject Christ, Mary or Joseph. Do not pretend they were middle-class and looked well-heeled. Meditate and the Holy Spirit will show you many things upon which to ponder.