Readings for June 28, 2020
2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16
Psalm 89:2-3, 16-19
Romans 6:4, 8-11
The “woman of influence” in Shunem offered a meal, and then a place to rest, to Elisha, when he visited. Jesus seems to infer her reward for this when he says, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous reward.” And, indeed, Elisha does offer her a reward for her hospitality by foretelling the birth of a son in the coming year.
Extending hospitality, then, seems a pretty important gesture. In establishing his vision for monastic life, St. Benedict set out rules for hospitality. “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Matt 25:35).”
I have a friend who lives this. He frequently welcomes students from overseas and friends of his children not only to a meal, but to stay with his family for extended periods of time. Despite already having a full house, he does not hesitate to recognize when someone is in need of a place to stay, and he does not hesitate to open his door. I have also seen his gentle hospitality while walking to dinner with him in a large city, when he stopped to chat, buy a meal for, and then pray with a homeless man.
He is also hospitable in conversation. Despite having vastly different political views, we discuss them without judgement of each other, often teasing one another as well as challenging one another. Our phone conversations always start with chats about family and then lead to a deeper conversation about faith and I always leave the conversation renewed.
Unpretentiously, generously, lovingly, my friend looks for Christ in those he meets and consequently shares Christ with those he greets, by acting as a living, loving example of his faith. Put simply: I see Christ in him and I consider him to be a righteous man. I hope someday to be able to be as welcoming and as hospitable as he is. I think that’s what Jesus wants of me. I know that’s what I want of me.
Lord Jesus, thank you for challenging me to being open to offer hospitality. I know that I can sometimes be closed to these encounters. Open my heart to be like yours, to be like my friend’s heart. May my extension of your love reflect my love for you. Amen