No room in the inn


SURELY one of the saddest lines in the Gospel is when Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem and Joseph and Mary had to find emergency accommodation at a stable as there was “no room in the inn”(Luke 2:7).

Right from the first moments of his life on earth, Jesus is found to be on life’s periphery. He seems homeless. There is a lack of hospitality from those in the town to the Holy Family’s situation.

We can easily sentimentalise these moments but, in fact, they hide a harsh reality that still ought to trouble us even today.

In more recent times, our chief social welfare agencies in the Archdiocese have reported to me that homelessness in our part of Australia is increasing as is a most troubling associated reality.

This real poverty in our midst is becoming younger and involves more single mothers.

The St Vincent de Paul Society report to me that 8% of the visits to our Night Patrol this past winter were from young people under the age of 18.

They comment, “The lack of pay increases since the GFC, impact of penalty rates, reactive policies addressing affordable housing in an environment where a roof over your head could be as high as 40% of income, creates the second largest group of our companions seeking assistance; between the ages 20-39 years. This group makes up 43% of the requests for emergency support….. 19% of our companions identify as indigenous.”

Our CatholicCare report to me that so many young mothers whose marriages have ended are now too often with their children using their cars as the principal means of “housing”.

There are tragic stories behind these facts!

Like Jesus, there seems to be “no room in the inn.”

Let us be more highly conscious of this over the Christmas and New Year holiday time. At least, let us give generously to Christmas appeals that request our practical charity.

There is also the practical Christmas charity of not simply the giving of our money but our time and efforts towards greater hospitality.

All of us can do something practical here – in our families, in our neighbourhood, and in our wider communities.

The Christmas practical charity of contacting by phone or message those who have become distant from us is to be a priority. Better still, a face to face “catch up” who those who are on the “periphery” of our families or communities is a great Christmas gesture.

Make sure there is a genuine smile on our face and a deep resolve to start afresh in our relationships and communications.

Then Christmas today will begin to reverse the inhospitality of the first Christmas at Bethlehem over two thousand years ago!

May I take this opportunity to ask sincerely the choicest blessings of the Infant Jesus upon you and your loved ones in our Archdiocese.

I do pray that this time of refreshment and hopeful distance from our daily routines will revitalise us all. May we return later to our commitments after finding more time to pray and be revitalised for the important challenges that await us all in 2018.

Happy Christmas and New Year to you all! Particular thanks to all who have assisted practically in the Archdiocese over the past year.

Let us pray for each other in these wonderful days of joy and peace!