By Fr. Mark Sietsema
Every good story needs a villain—even a Sunday-School Christmas pageant. Of course, the original Christmas story from Matthew and Luke had a super-villain: King Herod. But for a Sunday School production, it doesn't really work to have grade-school kids acting out the Slaughter of the Innocents, so there isn't room for a Herod. In his place, therefore, a new villain must be found. And so now the bad guy of every Christmas pageant is ... the innkeeper! That cruel, heartless, money-driven petty tyrant who couldn't find a space in his inn for a pregnant woman and her weary husband. Because of his indifference, the holy family winds up—not in a room at the Bethlehem Motel Six—but in a barn, in a stable, amidst hay and cattle … and all that stuff that turns up when cattle and hay come together. It is a picture of consummate inhospitality toward the infant Christ.