Mary and Joseph must have been very tired after the birth of Jesus. The long journey to Bethlehem from Nazareth was no doubt exhausting. All the commotion surrounding the census must have been nerve-wracking, and the anxiety of finding a place to stay and birth the baby would have been very stressful.
After the birth, Mary and Joseph had to open their temporary shelter to visitors of all kinds – shepherds, the Magi, curious passersby – and very likely at all hours of the day and night.
During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, many of us will be visiting others or receiving visitors. The pre-Christmas preparations and the activities of Christmas Eve/Christmas Day may have left us exhausted. Although we dearly wish to spend time with people we love, some of whom we only see at this time of year, we wonder sometimes how we will manage – how will we get through the afternoon or the evening without our fatigue showing? And on a deeper level, how will we get beyond the conversation of “catch-up and chit-chat” and be really present to our hosts/guests, in a way that will allow the light of the Christ-child to shine?
In “Fresh Bread and Other Gifts of Spiritual Nourishment“, author Joyce Rupp gives us the following prayer, inspired by the Blessed Virgin’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation. I hope it will be a source of strength and inspiration to any readers who may be battling fatigue, yet dearly wish to make themselves available to friends/family/strangers during this Christmas season:
A Prayer for Hospitality to the Mother of Jesus
“Mary, the quality of your visit to Elizabeth draws me to prayer. You teach me so much about welcoming others and of being other-centered. You hurried quickly to where the need was. You thought of Elizabeth. You gave her joy, hope and promise, or rather, you allowed the Lord to do all of that through you. You believed in the promise made to you by your God. Is that why you could give and share, and visit the way you did? You touched Elizabeth’s spirit and she felt the goodness of God in her life. Mary, you understood so well God’s great love for you. You trusted him so totally. Your welcoming presence met Elizabeth and she cried out in recognition of the fulness of God within you.
Mary, dear woman of God pray for us, that we can be spiritual people of quality, of promise, of welcoming presence. Help us to be full of hospitality, welcoming the Christ in all and allowing the Christ within us to be met and visited. Amen.”