Hospitality is our call
The readings this weekend exemplify different forms of hospitality for us to ponder. Part of our vocation as disciples of Jesus is, I believe, to be hospitable. Hospitality in its many forms is a key concept of much of scripture and is part of the relationship between God and humanity as well as within the human community. In most cases or examples of hospitality, we note the extravagance of the hospitality shown.
We start with the visit of the three men to the tent of Abraham and Sarah at the oaks of Mamre. To welcome his guests, Abraham orders that food be prepared and that the men should be made comfortable. This was not a snack that Abraham ordered! Sixty pounds of flour is to be made into loaves and a 600-800 pound calf is slaughtered. It is a veritable feast and is spread before the three men to welcome them to Abraham and Sarah’s home. Such extravagance!
We see a similar situation when Jesus visits Martha and Mary. Martha is working diligently and hard to prepare a feast for Jesus to welcome him into their home. We can imagine the whirlwind in the kitchen! Martha is not simply going to serve tea and a biscuit – no, she will show Jesus that she holds his friendship dear by the hospitality she provides; it will be the best she can offer and it will be abundant.
Mary exhibits a different kind of hospitality. She welcomes the Word into her heart and gives it a home there. Her hospitality doesn’t negate that of her sister Martha; it is simply a different kind of hospitality, one which Jesus acknowledges as being important as well. St. Paul speaks of another kind of hospitality, one in which he is willing to give all in order to nourish others with God’s Word and grace.
We too are called to extend hospitality – to welcome any and all into our community, to share our fellowship with them, to invite them to listen to the Word by our own example and sometimes even to offer the hospitality of a meal that is shared. Pope Francis often speaks of our call to make the Church a place of welcome for all, no matter who they may be. He encourages us to be extravagant, just as God is extravagant in relation to us. The Church will only be a place of welcome for all if we extend hospitality in its many forms.
By Richard Beaudette, OMI