A cup must be empty before it can be filled. If it is already full, it can’t be filled again except by emptying it out. In order to fill anything, there must be a hollowed-out space. Otherwise it can’t receive.
This is especially true of God’s word. In order to receive it, we must be hollowed out. We must be capable of receiving it, emptied of the false self and its endless demands.
When Christ came, there was no room in the inn. It was full. The inn is a symbol of the heart. God’s word, Christ, can take root only in a hollow.
-William Breault, SJ
I know pumpkins are not necessarily associated with Christmas. I know I should have left them behind after Thanksgiving, but when I think about being hollowed out, I think of pumpkins. More specifically I think of my freshman year of college. We had a party where we carved pumpkins. It was not the first time that I carved a pumpkin in my life, but when I was younger, I never had to deal with the pumpkin guts. I think it was fitting that the first time I had to deal with pumpkin guts was my freshman year of college.
Pumpkin guts are like all the junk I keep in my life that I don’t need to hold onto. Pumpkin guts are like those negative words that were whispered into my ear that I received as truth. Pumpkin guts are like unforgiveness—bitter and cold and weighing me down like an anchor. Pumpkin guts are like wanting to control a situation that is far out of my control. Pumpkin guts are like the sins that hold onto me like a ball and chain.
Once the pumpkin guts are scraped out—and only then—are we able to put the light inside and have it shine through the cracks.
That’s a lesson we can learn from Advent.
We must be emptied before we can be filled. We must be emptied from the anxieties. We must be emptied of all the hatred, sham, pretense, resentment, and insulting thoughts. Our jealousies and insecurities. Our need to control. Our unforgiving, bitter hearts. We must rid ourselves of all those things that weigh us down during this Advent season.
That way we can get on our knees on Christmas Eve and pray, “Make my heart be like Bethlehem and Christ, be born in me.”
Like pumpkins, we must be hallowed out. That hallowing out does not make us empty, rather it is quite the opposite. It allows us to be truly filled. That is when we are able to receive life. Life to the fullest. That is the desire of my heart.
Make my heart be like Bethlehem and Christ, be born in me.