2 Kgs 4: 8-11. 14-16, Rom 6: 3-4.8-11, Mt 10: 37-42
Dear brothers and sisters,
One of the nicest things in life is to meet an open, friendly, warm, hospitable person. Hospitality is a hallmark of a true follower of Christ. At long last winter ended and summer came. All along the street and parks the people rejoiced. They drew back their curtains and opened up their windows. Fresh air, sunlight, and warmth poured into their homes. Thank God for Summer! Thank God for the sunshine! They exclaimed!
Just then a beggar man appeared at the end of the street. He was quickly spotted through the open windows. One by one, down the length of the street, the windows were quickly closed, the curtains silently drawn, and the locks put back on the doors. The beggar man knocked on every door on the street, but not one door opened for him.
Ruta, he left the street and headed for somewhere else. No sooner had he disappeared then the curtains were pulled back again, and the windows and doors opened up once more. And again, the sunshine and fresh air poured in, and all the people rejoiced.
Strange how our homes are always open to receive God’s sunshine and fresh air, but not to receive a child of God, especially when he comes in poverty.
Christ urges us in the first reading to be hospitable. Nowadays hospitality is a very different matter from what it was in the old days when nobody locked their doors. Sadly, those days are gone. Today is the day of locks, bolts, chains, peep holes, alarm systems, dogs—yet today there is more need than ever for hospitality and friendliness. In the world today there is a lot of loneliness and there are lots of strangers, aliens, and displaced people.
Hospitality to a friend is no big deal. There is no risk involved, and there is every likelihood that the favor will be returned. But hospitality to a stranger is a great thing.
But Christ calls us to welcome the strangers in our midst. To be hospitable does not mean making them like us. It means accepting them as they are. This enables them to shed their strangeness, and become members of the community.
If Christians get into ghettos where they secure themselves and their prosperity against those they consider as socially inferior to them, what hope is there for the world? Christ calls us to reach out. And the rewards are enormous. He said that even a trivial act of kindness, like giving a cup of cold water, would not go unrewarded. But there are earthly rewards too, and very great ones-the growth of understanding, friendliness, and cooperation, things our neighborhoods are crying out for.
This is the kind of summer we ourselves can cause to visit our homes and streets, a summer which will banish from our midst the winter of mistrust, fear, and hostility. For the followers of Christ, hospitality is not an option extra. It is the very heart of the Gospel. And the ultimate motivation is clear: to welcome the stranger is to welcome Christ himself.
Hospitality is not so much about open doors as about open hearts. To open one’s heart is to begin to live. To close it is to begin to die. Amen!
Peace and all good!
Fr. Valery Burusu