When you think about the story of the birth of Christ, the first people to come to mind are the main characters of the story. Maybe you think of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, or the wise men. Of course, Jesus gets top billing! But there were a lot more people that God used to tell the story of salvation that first Christmas.
If you’re a Catholic single, you probably know what it’s like to feel like you’re always playing the supporting character in other people’s stories. I know I felt inconsequential to the world around me. I was afraid (and sure!) that I would feel that way until I was able to playing a leading role in my own love story.
When I thought about the two vocations that others had laid out as options (nun or wife), I honestly wondered if my story mattered until I discerned God’s call.
But now, I realize now that God is using us for powerful things at every stage in our journey.
The reality is that we’re all called to be saints. One day, some of us will be saints with churches named after us and our own prayer cards and medals. But God intentionally calls all of us to be daily saints.
So if you’re feeling overlooked and small this holiday season, let’s reflect on the stories of the supporting characters of the birth of Christ and remember our own call to holiness, too.
The innkeepers who said no
Joseph and Mary traveled quite a ways before the birth of Christ. Think for a minute how much less of an adventure this story would be they arrived at the front desk of the inn and the innkeeper said, “Oh why yes, our deluxe birthing suite is available.”
Obviously it wouldn’t have been like that, but you get my point.
We often forget these inkeepers who turned the Holy Family away. But the triumph of this story is in part due to the “no” of this collection of innkeepers. They turned Mary and Joseph away. But the story of the nativity blossomed into the impactful story that God meant for it to be.
The innkeeper who said yes
Think about the innkeeper who woke up that day thinking it would be just another day! Maybe even a day where he may not make ends meet?
Then, lo and behold, he fills every single room. Not only that, someone else comes knocking.
Of all things, it’s a pregnant woman he can’t shelter.
Consider what must have gone racing through his heart and mind. He didn’t know that the Son of God was in Mary’s womb. But we have to assume his heart stirred in the presence of the Lord. So he racked his brain. Then, he came up with what the other local innkeepers had to think was the weirdest solution.
A stable, filled with animals.
I can’t imagine that this was a normal offer to extend. But something in his heart compelled him to do so.
This willingness to say yes to the strange things God asks us to do (like build an ark, or climb into a lion’s den) can have an impact we don’t understand. That doesn’t mean it’s not important.
Luke the Evangelist
Luke as a faithful gospel writer is sort of the original “pictures or it didn’t happen” He wasn’t even there at the birth of Christ. It wasn’t until years later that he was called to write down this story with a faithful heart.
Imagine Luke putting pen to paper and opening his mind and heart to divine inspiration. “Someday, two thousand years from now, people will read this story again and again and make tiny figurines to go in windows and under Christmas trees” was a thought that probably didn’t cross his mind.
More than likely, Luke was just asked by his faithful God to do a job, and he did it. Luke didn’t need to know the endgame to understand that what God was asking of him would have an impact in God’s greater plan.
Neither do we.
The Lord will use a willing heart however and whenever he needs—for whatever purpose.
When you feel like you’re not contributing, or that your contributions don’t mean much compared to those who have been blessed with more or different gifts, remember this truth: God needs every single one of us.
We have a purpose, just as we are.
God needed every single one of these people to bring about a greater story. We can learn humility and joy from knowing that we play a role in his grand plan, even when to us it seems small.
He needed the innkeeper who said no as much as he needs the innkeeper who says yes. God needs people to be in the story, to hear the story, and to tell the story.
This Christmas (and all year round!), he wants you.