The First Reading on the 2nd book of Kings, according to some commentaries “The theme that binds these two triads of relationship into a unit is “welcoming,” which is at the heart of every relationship in these verses. Jesus is not merely pointing in a general way to the importance of welcoming or hospitality, already an important value among the communities in which he ministered.”
In the first reading, Elisha was urged to dine with a woman and the husband knew that Elisha is a holy man of God. They prepared room for Elisha every time he passed through their place. And because of their hospitality they were promised that they would be fondling a baby son. Hospitality always has corresponding blessings.
Other commentary says that, “These are the basics of Christian hospitality, no surprises, nothing fancy, just an active awareness that all these “little ones” are our guests of honor, the honor of Christ.”
Furthermore, in the letter to the Romans, St. Paul talks about the baptism which primarily includes Christ and his disciples. One commented that baptism is right at the place where Christians are reminded of the beginning of their Christianity. For we have become Christians through baptism. Christ has entrusted his disciples to make all peoples into disciples.
It then shows that our Christian hospitality comes from the sacrament of baptism in which by accepting Christ as our guest we receive the love of God, for we are his Children.
In the Gospel, Jesus told to his apostles about love and reward. But how would the reward be received? By the hospitality of one’s mind and heart, we have to listen to whoever is calling or knocking and we have to feel the needs and pure intentions of the One who calls and knocks. Listening and feeling are the best partners for hospitality. According to a Jewish Proverb, “Hospitality is one form of worship.” As Mother Theresa puts it, “Some people come in your life as blessing and some come in your life as lesson.” God comes in our lives as a blessing and someone’s action as a lesson.
The Marawi Siege is one good example. Hundreds of civilians are victims of war. For almost one month of experiencing fear, hunger, trauma, worries, and anxieties, the people remain in need. Lots of relief goods and other things donated by our countrymen are being brought to Iligan City by military cargo. What are our contributions to this scenario? Of course, Fr. Joemar initiated a Hug for Marawi victims through the donation of Teddy Bears or stuffed toys. That through this project, it will ease the fear and worries of children. What else can we do to answer the needs of Marawivictims?
That is the challenge for us, lest we simply read and hear the news of Marawi. The Gospel reminds us to always welcome God not only in our minds but also in our hearts. That is the value of hospitality.
As what Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “Let anyone who comes to you go away feeling better and happier. Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile. Joy is shown from the eyes. It appears when we speak and walk; it cannot be kept closed inside us. It reacts outside. Joy is very infectious.”
By Bro. Melencio P. Garcia, OP