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No Room in the Inn – A Story About Friendship

April 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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Life of Christ (Week 2 of 27)

When finally the scrolls of history are completed down to the last words in time, the saddest line of all will be: “There was no room in the inn.” —Life of Christ, Chapter 2: Bethlehem, Paragraph 3

There was once a widower named Jacob who lived next door to a family with three children. When the family pulled their moving van up to the curb of their new home, Jacob had been working outside and offered to help them unload. After a long day of moving furniture and carrying boxes, the family invited Jacob to join them for pizza, after which they all enjoyed ice cream cones for dessert.

From that day forward, Jacob became a close friend of the family. He joined them for dinner often, and could always be counted on for family celebrations. He attended birthdays, holidays, and sacramental celebrations, often even joining the family for Sunday Mass.

A couple years into their relationship, the family learned they were expecting a fourth child. When little Nathaniel was born, Jacob was honored to become his godfather. The two immediately developed a special bond. From the time Nathan could walk, he would rush to the foyer and jump into Jacob’s arms the moment he crossed the threshold. The little boy would watch out the window so he could run outside every afternoon when Jacob collected his mail. The two spent untold hours together. Nathan “helped” Jacob plant his garden in the spring, and throughout the summer, he could be seen carefully weeding under Jacob’s kind tutelage. No matter that he trampled the vegetables. Jacob was a patient and loving man. He often took Nathan for long walks in the afternoon while the boy’s mother cooked dinner. Once he even found a garter snake in his yard and took it next door so Nathan could hold it in his hands and examine it closely, before releasing it into the field behind their house. Theirs was a very special friendship.

Shortly after he turned three, Nathan’s family received news that their dad was being promoted to a new position. This meant moving the family six hours North, to Minnesota. Jacob and Nathan were both devastated, but the old man kept a positive attitude for the sake of the boy. At their parting, Jacob presented Nathan with a framed photo of the two of them in the garden where they’d shared so many great memories. On the back, he’d written in permanent marker, “To My Very Special Buddy! Love, Mr. Jacob.

Nathan held that photo close to his chest as they drove away, continuing to wave well after he lost sight of his friend. When the family arrived at their new home, the boy's mother, in the midst of unpacking and organizing, placed the picture in a cupboard for safe keeping. In the craziness of the move and the excitement of their new home, the memento was quickly forgotten.

Over the first few months, Nathan was permitted to call Jacob a few times on the phone, while his mother kept their friend abreast of family news. Nathan told his parents often that he missed his special friend. But little hearts are easily malleable. It didn't take long for Nathan to get busy with new friends at preschool and exciting activities in his new community.

About a year after their move, Jacob called about being in the area on a trip. The family immediately made plans for him to visit, thrilled to see their old neighbor. But when Jacob walked in, something interesting happened. Nathan, who had been so excited to see his friend, didn’t rush into Jacob’s arms when he walked in the door. His mother coaxed him, encouraging Nathan’s excitement. But the more she encouraged, the more hesitant he became. Nathan liked the idea of seeing Jacob. But in his presence, he had grown a bit uncomfortable.

Despite the initial tension, the family enjoyed a nice dinner with their old friend. Nathan warmed up as the night wore on, but it wasn’t quite the same as it had been just a year before when they’d spent so much time together.

A few years later, when Nathan was eight, his mother sent an invitation to Jacob for Nathan’s First Communion. He happily attended the blessed occasion. But at eight years old, Nathan didn’t recognize his old friend. The man that appeared in his home for his special celebration – the man that had been Nathan’s godfather and “Very Special Buddy” – had become a stranger to him.

This happens often in life. We make friends, and then as time and separation take their toll, we lose contact. In the case of someone as young as Nathan, close friends can be completely forgotten.

Time and proximity are key ingredients in a friendship. In our world, Jesus has been eliminated from the public square. It's almost as if, as a culture, we've moved away from a close friend and have gradually lost touch.

Time and proximity are taking their toll.

When we send our children to school for 8 hours a day and they are not permitted to hear the name of Jesus, how are they supposed to develop a close relationship with Him? We may soak them in their Faith as best we can; but, lacking a presence in school or the culture – two places where they spend most of their time as they grow – how are they supposed to recognize Him in their midst?

And what about us? When the time we spend with Our Lord is limited to an hour at Mass on Sunday, how can we develop a relationship with Him? How can we trust Him with our deepest thoughts, with our greatest dreams? [Or maybe you are someone who makes a point to spend more time with Jesus. Great! But no doubt the same applies to you. Have you ever tried to go to adoration after a long break? It's a bit uncomfortable at first, isn't it?]

As a culture, we've created – or at the very least we've allowed others to create – a world where Jesus is not welcome. As a result of keeping Him at bay, many no longer recognize Him at all. The growing numbers of professed atheists and agnostics reflect this fact. Further evidence is visible in the number of Christians who have “manufactured” a Jesus to fit their own liking – when we don't spend time with our friends, the image we recollect of them better fits our own imagination than the incontrovertible reality of their flesh and blood.

Whether the “Inn” is the local school, colleges and universities, places of business, or the halls of Congress, when there is no room for Jesus, we destroy our ability to make Him the center of our lives, and we deny our children an opportunity to know Him at all.

And if there is no room for Jesus in the Inn of our institutions, how can we make room for Him in the temple of our hearts?

Today, the King of the Universe is waiting for us to invite Him back into the public square; into our classrooms, our institutions of research, our businesses, our culture and our homes.  He is waiting for us to sweep open the doors of hospitality and assure Him that, for Him, there is always room in the Inn.

Will we open the doors?

Or will the annals of recorded history forever note that today – in our time – There was no room in the inn?

Reading Assignment:


Discussion Questions:

1. What are some steps you can take to make room in the Inn?

2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read More:

For More Information on the Book Club:


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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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  • LizEst

    Great post, Vicki. Thanks…and God bless you!

  • Ann Marie

    This is the first time I’ve actually had a book that was being discussed. This was a wonderful reflection to accompany the chapters on the early life of Jesus. Thank you!

    • Vicki

      So glad you are here, Ann Marie – thank YOU!

  • Jeanette

    You had me mesmerized by the story in this post. It’s a great lesson to be learned. Thanks Vicki!

    • Vicki

      So kind – I’m glad you enjoyed it (definitely different from my norm:))! God bless, Jeanette!

  • Lisa

    Hi, Vickie….and fellow Sheen readers. It is so good to be here at this time and in this place. The book thus far is a treasure….and I’m confident that many more gems await discovery!
    I really enjoyed the story Vickie related for this reading section. (Some parts made my heart ache.) I was left thinking many things….close to home memories of my own partings with friends. How very difficult it is to maintain or deepen friendships with those who live miles away.

    “There was no room in the inn for Christ”….is it even possible in a country while its citizens still turn away those precious unborn souls God sends us?

    For me personally, as we homeschool our children, there seems more opportunity to “invite” the Holy Family into our lives and make them the center. Oh! But still the Enemy lurks….and we so often fall into closing that door even on each other, becoming self-centered and forgetting Who knocks on our door… many lost opportunities in a given day.

    Some steps that I’ve taken are attributed mainly to the works of this site. Seeking a deeper prayer life and finding a spiritual director; developing a rule of life are a few. Drinking from the well of the Latin Rite mass as we are able from time to time; persevering in homeschooling….. esp. when I was tempted to throw in the towel.

    Things that I still need to do now: practice docility and obedience in those little ways throughout the day…. small things, but nonetheless hard. Smiling more rather than wearing a perpetual scowl of frustration; little fasts so as to hunger more for Jesus; quieting my tongue, so I can hear His knock on my soul’s door; recreating with my family members — laughing with them. And one of the hardest for me: trusting in God’s timing as He approaches my spouse and works in my own heart. I’m not there yet (I continue to get in the way)….but, each day, I have that chance to resolve to try again.

    One door that needs opening often is that one leading straight into the confessional.?

    • Vicki

      Lisa, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts – Amen to each of them! Very insightful and no doubt valuable to others – God bless!

  • Mary Therese

    Vicki–what a compelling, convicting story–thank you for sharing that! This book has taken me by surprise. I suppose I was expecting a more historical work, and not at all this work of heart, emotion, beauty.

    Along the lines of Vicki’s thoughts today, the quote that jumped out at me the most this week was “Divinity is always where one least expects to find it.” If the innkeepers had really known who it was seeking shelter, wouldn’t they have opened their doors? Given Him their own room? How many opportunities do we miss in a day, week, because we don’t think they are important? God-worthy? Yet, God works with such little, everyday things…we just need to open our eyes to the possibility.

    So…a step to take…hmmm…being more “mindful” of the presence of God, of the little things. Good thing to ponder for the coming week. And yes, like Lisa said, need to get to the confessional this week too.

    • Vicki

      Mary Therese, I was tempted to use the quote “Divinity is always where one least expects to find it.” Thank you for making it top of mind for contemplation this week!

  • Michelle

    I so wanted to be ready for this today, but I’m still back in the Preface pondering the relevance for me of the two philosophies of life. That alone has been significant.

    I’m not giving up though because I have come to realize that I don’t know Jesus well enough.

    • Vicki

      I applaud your perseverance, Michelle! I promise, this book is well-worth it – I think it may turn out to be one of my favorites since we began the book club! So glad you’re joining us – God bless!!!

  • Kevin

    Hi Everyone,

    I have had this book for several years and never read it. I am looking forward to doing so now.

  • marybernadette

    ‘On Monday, when I was meditating on the Joyful Mysteries, I meditated more the ever on the events around the Lord’s birth, particularly, that ‘there was no room at the inn’ and the significance of it. Reading this beautiful meditation, is another opportunity, in seeing how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. Thank you and God bless you

  • Maureen

    This book is so packed with insights. I’ve taken away so much already and the book is just beginning!

    • Vicki

      I agree, Maureen! It’s fast becoming one of my favorites and we’ve read less than two chapters! So glad you are reading with us!!! God bless!

  • Valerie Pachla

    I am behind in my readings but am catching up. I particularly liked: “Jesus progressively revealed His Divinity NOT because He grew in the conciousness of it but because He intended to be slow in revealing it” I won’t see that new movie about Jesus as a child because this is the approach they take. And “He who is born without a mother in heaven is born without a father on earth.” Also, “Of every other child that is born into the world, friends can say that it resembles the mother but this time the mother resembled the child…the child who made his mother…the mother too was only a child. He who was the living bread of heaven was laid in a manger – a place to eat!

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