Dorothy Day (Watch for the Light) challenges those of us who have said, "If Mary were looking for a room today to give birth to Jesus, I would have given her a room. Too bad I was born 2000 years too late!" Day says that Jesus is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts, and doing it through other people.
The early church was so profoundly aware of blessing Jesus through others that it was common practice to keep a "stranger's room" ready to offer shelter to those passing through town. Today, we have "guest rooms" for our close friends and family. How quick would we be to offer that to a stranger? The hosts didn't do this in memory of Jesus but, to them, the stranger was Jesus.
Day mentions how various people blessed Jesus; whether that was the shepherds and the wise men at his birth or those who prepared Jesus for the tomb after his death. Then she says...
We can do it too, exactly as they did. We are not born too late. We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers, in everyone we come in contact with.
Day says that Jesus will ask of us...
Did you give me food when I was hungry?
Did you give me drink when I was thirsty?
Did you give me clothes when my own were rags?
Did you come to see me when I was sick, or in prison or in trouble?
And to those who say, aghast, that they never had a chance to do such a thing, that they lived two thousand years too late, he will say again what they had the chance of knowing all their lives, that if these were done for the very least of his brethren they were done to him.
Day closes by saying that there is only one motivation for helping others...
Not for the sake of humanity. Not because it might be Christ who stays with us, comes to see us, takes up our time. Not because these people remind us of Christ...but because they are Christ, asking us to find room for him, exactly as he did at the first Christmas.
Take another look around and see if Jesus is asking for room in your heart today through someone you least expect.