One frosty evening when the wind was blowing deep drifts of snow, my family lingered in the familiar comfort of my grandmother’s kitchen. When the doorbell rang, “Ma” left us to answer it. We heard her talking with someone and as we curiously strained to hear what was transpiring in the hallway, she returned to the kitchen and quietly gathered some food and a warm drink. A man poorly clothed and shaking from the cold had been at the door. She had invited him in, and after giving him something to eat and drink, went down to the basement returning with a suit, winter coat, hat and scarf that belonged to my uncle who had passed away earlier that year. Strengthened by her kindness, the unexpected stranger donned his new garments and went on his way, wrapped in the warmth of her compassion.
Each Christmas when we recall the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter and being turned away by the inn keeper, the memory of my grandmother welcoming a stranger comes to mind. Might it not have been Jesus in the guise of a stranger that she welcomed, fed, and clothed that cold winter night?
Mary chose to say yes to God, bringing about the wondrous mystery of God coming to dwell among us. Let us allow Christ to be born in our lives in unexpected ways this Christmas. Like Mary, like my grandmother, we are meant to be vessels of God’s grace enabling us to bring God’s compassion and kindness into our world.