The First Reading and Gospel of this weekend speak to us about welcome and hospitality. In the exercise of welcoming the other, we welcome God himself. The New Testament urges us in
various passages not to fail to exercise hospitality. The Letter to the Hebrews says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.(Heb. 13:2).”
Today’s homily can point out that “hospitality” is more than just a natural virtue or integral part of good manners. There is a “hospitality” that goes to the very depths of our relationship with God and our neighbor. The example of Abraham, Sarah, Martha, and Mary today point to several key truths.
First, the only proper response to the human person is welcome, acceptance, and love. This starts with the welcome we give to our own children, born and unborn, and continues in the fabric of the family, Church, and society to create a communion of love and service. The attitude of welcome, the virtue of hospitality, means that we make room for the other because of the value of the other, not because of some pleasure or convenience of our own. (The phrase “every child a wanted child” is a Planned Parenthood slogan; but as psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney explains, it is not being “wanted” that leads to psychological health, but rather being “welcomed.” Being “wanted” means we meet someone else’s need or desire; being “welcomed” means there is room for us because of who we are and the dignity that we possess, independent of what is going on in anyone else.)
Second, the opportunity to welcome the other comes at times we do not expect. We are always living in the community of the human family, and have to be always ready to respond to the needs of the other person. We are not only responsible for the people we choose and plan for. We are responsible before we choose, simply because all human beings are our brothers and sisters. As John Paul II stressed in Evangelium Vitae, we have been entrusted to the care of one another by the Creator.
Third, the welcome and hospitality we extend to others is, by that very fact, extended to God himself. This is brought out in today’s readings and in many other passages of Scripture such as the judgment scene in Matthew 25.
Fourth, extending welcome can bring suffering and inconvenience to us – and this is the opportunity to live out what St. Paul describes in the Second Reading, uniting our sufferings with those of Christ.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 21, 2013
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Two sisters named Martha and Mary extend hospitality to Jesus as he stops for a visit while on his journey to Jerusalem. Mary sits beside Jesus as a disciple talking with him. Martha, burdened by much serving, asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus instead tells Martha that while she is needlessly worried about many things, there is need of only the one thing that Mary has chosen.