1 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
This festival, also known as the Golden Nights, is celebrated each evening from December 16th-24th and recreates Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. People representing the Holy Family move from door to door during the eight nights and are rejected every place they try to lodge. Finally, the group reaches the place where they are to celebrate Christmas and Mary and Joseph are allowed into the house. The whole party then goes to the nativity and prays. There are many variations on this theme including one in which a family goes from room to room in their house only to be turned away until on the last night, they enter the room where the nativity is set up. We all recognize the innkeeper in the children’s Christmas pageants turn the young couple away, only to soften and consent to allow them the use of his stable, a scene loosely based on Luke 2:7. This Spanish tradition takes the story one step further asking how many other places had turned down this family in need? And am I going to be the one who gives this family room in my home?
The drama of Las Posadas helps us to see that the whole world is in need of Jesus and that he desires to be born in everyone. So many, unfortunately, reject the chance for the Holy Family to lodge with them. They send Jesus out into the cold because they do not want to be bothered by the world in need. It is so unfortunate that it takes eight nights to find a place for Jesus to be born; that it takes eight nights to find someone who wants to dwell under the same roof with holiness in its purest form. It is also very poignant that this celebration ends in prayer. Jesus has found a place to dwell and the result is open communication with God the Father. This is true of our lives; when we find a place within us for Jesus to rest he makes prayer possible. As Jesus comes inside we are lifted up to God.
Eternal Father, allow your precious Son to be born in my home, and, dwell with me; may I always receive your Son whenever I encounter him, in Christ our Lord. Amen