The Saints of Christmas: The Inn Keeper

by | Dec 9, 2021 | Liturgy, Spirituality

The Christmas story is one we are all familiar with. The nativity scene is one that has been replicated many times over.  You can go to Hobby Lobby and find several different takes on one of the most special nights in Christian History.  The details and emotions given to the characters of that blessed and holy night are always intriguing to me. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the kings, the animals and even the inn keeper witnessed the most beautiful night of Salvation History.  Artists ever since have tried to allow us to enter into that night with them!  Through the next several weeks we will take a look at some of the saints that were there on that glorious night and find the message that they want us to learn from their experiences.

The Reluctant Saint: The Inn Keeper

How many of you would have counted the Inn Keeper as a saintly figure of the Nativity Story? As we all know, he turned Mary and Joseph away because there was no room for them in his inn.  However, he then invited them to stay out back in his stable.  When we ponder his actions we can think about the times we’ve said no and then had that tinge of guilt and changed our minds.  God moves in our hearts and gives us a little nudge to help in these times of desperation.  (This doesn’t mean we have to say yes all the time, but like the inn keeper, we need to be listening to the voice of God and change our no to yes if He calls us to!)

In many of our nativity paintings and the scenes we place in our homes, we see the shepherds, the wiseman, and sometimes we see an older man dressed in finer clothes hanging out in the background.   In one specific painting, “The Adoration of the Shepherds,” from Gerald van Honthorst, there is one gentleman to the left who is in fine clothing with a dear smile on his face.  We can depict this man as the inn keeper.  If you think through the nativity story, we can assume the inn keeper checked in on Mary and Joseph to see how they were doing.  He was left delighted that his stable was not only a place for his animals, but for the miracle of human life too.  I bet he felt good that he listened to the inner voice of God and allowed this poor couple to reside in his stable.

How many times have I been like the inn keeper?  How many times have I started off staying no to something that God was actually asking me to say “Yes!” to?  It takes time for me to realize that I had made the wrong decision and then I back pedal to make my decision right.  The Inn Keeper was what we could call, a reluctant saint!  Yes, he dragged his feet at first, but in the end, he made the right choice and followed the will of God.  He did not know Mary and Joseph, yet he extended his kindness to them with a place of warmth, even if it was his stable…it was all he had.  He gave from his heart, he gave all he had!  Sometimes we see people who need help and we think, “I cannot help this person!  I certainly don’t have what they need!”  What if we listened closer and involved God in that dialogue?  God calls us each to be like the inn keeper and give what we have, not more than we have, even if it is not perfect in our minds.  What we have may be exactly what someone else needs…pure perfection in their minds!

We can follow the inn keepers lead this Advent Season through Christmas and give what we can to those who are in need.  It’s never to late to do a beautiful act of kindness…and in that kindness the will of God can bring perfection!

For Reflection

“The stable is a place for outcasts, the ignored and the forgotten. The world might have expected the Son of God to be born in an inn; a stable would certainly be the last place in the world where one would look for him. The lesson is: divinity is always where you least expect to find it. So the Son of God made man is invited to enter into his own world through a back door. “– Fulton J Sheen

Pope John XXIII’s Christmas Prayer

O sweet Child of Bethlehem, grant that we may share with all our hearts in this profound mystery of Christmas. Put into the hearts of men and women this peace for which they sometimes seek so desperately and which you alone can give to them. Help them to know one another better, and to live as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity. Awaken in their hearts love and gratitude for your infinite goodness. Join them all together in your love. And give us your heavenly peace. Amen.


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Tara Brooke

Tara Brooke is a wife, mother, educator, and child of God.  Tara has worked in various aspects of ministry in the Catholic Church for over 20 years, her last years as a Director of Marriage and Family Life for her local diocese.  She now stays home and tends to the needs of her growing and beautiful family.  She has three biological children and two adopted children, both with Down Syndrome. She loves helping engaged couples grow in their understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage as well as helping enrich already married couples in growing in holiness together.  She resides in Bismarck, ND with her amazing husband, Deacon Dan! 

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