Daily Reflection
December 14th, 2004
Don Driscoll, S.J.
Chaplain, School of Pharmacy
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Three weeks ago I was in a K-Mart and overheard a woman asking the photographer about family pictures.  She asked how much it would cost to airbrush her photo removing 30 pounds and then add them to her sister's picture.  Minutes later I was in the checkout lane.  Behind me was a little girl about 6 years old.  She was pulling gum and candy off of the shelves and complaining loudly about what she didn't want for Christmas.  All the while her mother kept saying softly, "Be calm, Susan... relax Susan...take a deep breath Susan."  I finally turned to her and congratulated her saying what a wonderfully patient mother Susan had.  She looked at me and said: "I'm Susan."

Well as I continued to roam the mall, I was overwhelmed with the racing, anxious, short-tempered shoppers whose preparations for Christmas seemed to focus more on the commercialism of the season and not on the Reason for the Season -- Jesus.  When I look back to the times of my youth I remember a slower tempo, a 'sweet' serenity, and a joyful expectancy of the birth of our Savior all during this holy season.

Have we lost ALL these religious feelings in our modern Advent of haste, short tempers, commercialism, and fatigue? And, if so, how can we re-create them - at least in our own hearts?

May I offer you one little way that has helped me through the years to keep focused on the One whose birth would forever change our lives?  St. Luke records in his gospel that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, expecting to find a place for their child to be born.  Imagine their heartbreak when told again and again, "There's no room in the inn."

Throughout my life I've often begged for the Prince of Peace to be born in my heart, but nothing happened.  Why not?  Was it Jesus' fault?  No - he desired to come, but there was 'no room in the inn' of my heart.  It was filled with worries, plans, problems, resentments, fears; all creating a restless anxiety that locked me inward and left 'no room in the inn.'

Here's a little technique that helped me overcome this: first I would try to identify the preoccupying worry or draining mood of the moment.  Then I'd name the bad spirit, for example, worry and I'd pray, "Spirit of 'worry', in the Name of Jesus, depart."  It works.  The power comes from the Name of Jesus.  Repeating this throughout the days, as needed, emptied the inn of my heart, leaving a place for Jesus to be born.  Then I create conditions for His coming by selecting a word or phrase from the Scriptures of the day and repeat it throughout the day like a Mantra.

For example, from today's Psalm 34, I might choose, "Come, O Lord, do not delay."  Or, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted."  Or perhaps, "Those who are crushed in Spirit, He Saves."

This practice empties the 'inn of my heart', reminds me of Jesus' presence, invites His re-birth within me, and creates a richer experience of the peace that God desires me to be filled with daily.

I invite you to experience the true joy and peace of this holy season, not just during Advent, but today and every day of your lives through this simple practice.

A Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones!


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