Friday, July 15, 2022

Hospitality! Seeking And Recognizing Divine Presence In Others!

One of the traits I have noticed about people, myself included, is that we have a curious nature that seeks to learn about the world around us; especially as it relates to others.  Initially, it is about looking for things in common.  If we find enough we like about someone, we begin to recognize differences by accident or on purpose.  When we have satisfied our curiosity, we make a decision to continue in relationship with someone or to go elsewhere.

When someone’s faith is involved, the conversations focus more on how a person lives his or her life.  Belief in God adds a different dimension about why a person makes decisions about something as to whether it is good or bad.  There is an added aspect of how others would be affected.  It now includes a depth of hospitality beyond just getting to know one.  It addresses the very essence of having an ongoing relationship, rather than a casual acquaintance.

In both readings and St. Luke’s Gospel today, we see the importance of how hospitality can affect the very life of a person.  In the severe conditions of the Mideast desert it could be a matter of life and death when one needs to find shelter to survive.

Abraham, the 100-year-old Patriarch in the Genesis reading known for his deep faith and trust in God, realized the importance of hospitality to visitors when he jumped up and ran to greet three men passing by his tent.  Everything he does, along with his 90-year-old wife, Sarah, is done out of homage and haste to make sure they are protected from the heat.  All their care was focused on these men who they recognized at the end of their stay as the divine presence of God and two of his angels.  In return, God rewards their hospitality with a promise of having a son by the time they return next year. 

St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians indicates another aspect of hospitality from Paul who at one time persecuted Jesus and His followers as Saul.  After Jesus visits him on the road to Damascus, Saul realizes that what he was doing was wrong.  Jesus in his love, mercy and compassion died on the cross for our sins; even those who persecuted Him.  His hospitality is one of a suffering servant who daily puts himself on the line to make sure others believe so they are saved and not condemned.  His life feeds those in need.

Finally, in St. Luke’s Gospel, we have Martha and her sister, Mary, who love Jesus and His message. Each share hospitality with Jesus through their individual relationships of grace of Mary by listening and understanding and by Martha serving to take care of Jesus’ earthly needs. 

The warning from Jesus to Martha is not that what she is doing is wrong, but that she doesn’t recognize the importance of Mary’s gift of hospitality of being there to learn from Jesus.  Martha has burdened herself with anxiety and worry about what needs to be done rather than use her gifts for Jesus, her friend and Savior.           

Hospitality’s main focus is to discover and recognize the divine presence in others.  When we begin to do that we understand the purpose for God’s creation of us and why it is so important for us to love others as Jesus loves us.  It truly teaches us the depth of how and why we spread Jesus’ Gospel message of love, mercy and forgiveness.

The next time we are hospitable to someone for whatever reason, remember that we do so to share God’s love so all of us are in relationship with God and one another.

Reading 1: Genesis 18: 1-10a
Reading 2: Colossians 1: 24-28
Gospel: Luke 10: 38-42

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