“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:7
Luke emphasizes that the only shelter for the Holy Family was the place where the animals lived. Since Mary was about to give birth, there was no time to search for better accommodations, and, as the Scripture informs us, “there was no room for them in the inn.” Venerable Fulton Sheen – the well-known archbishop from New York and one of the pioneers of early television – commented that the words “there was no room for them in the inn” may be the saddest words in the whole Bible. He draws a relationship between these words and those of John’s Prologue that the Son of God “came to his own and his own received him not” (John 1:11). You could say that what is stressed here is a lack of hospitality.
Yet, perhaps there is another interpretation. The word in the original Greek, translated here as “inn,” is not actually the formal word for “inn,” but rather for “guest room.” Thus, instead of seeing the Holy Family as coming to an inn with various rooms, we can imagine them seeking shelter in a large guest room of a private residence. The guest room seems to be full – there is not enough room for them, especially private enough for a woman to deliver a child. Continue reading