It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts.
But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ.
We can do now what those who knew him in the days of his flesh did. I am sure that the shepherds did not adore and then go away to leave Mary and her Child in the stable, but somehow found them room, even though what they had to offer might have been primitive enough. . . .
We can do it, too, exactly as they did. We are not born too late. We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers, in everyone we come in contact with. . . .
All of this can be proved, if proof is needed, by the doctrines of the Church. We can talk about Christ’s Mystical Body, about the vine and the branches, about the Communion of Saints. But Christ himself has proved it for us, and no one has to go further than that. For he said that a glass of cold water given to a beggar was given to him. He made heaven hinge on the way we act toward him in his disguise of commonplace, frail, ordinary humanity. . . .
If that is the way [various persons in the Gospels] gave hospitality to Christ, then certainly it is the way it should still be given. . . . Not because those in need remind us of Christ, … but because they are Christ, asking us to find room for him, exactly as he did at the first Christmas.