Christian Hospitality


READINGS: Gen. 18:1-10; Ps. 14(15): 2-5; Col. 1: 24-28; Lk. 10: 38-42
Christian Hospitality

In the incarnation, God decided to enter our human history. He put on our nature and did everything that a normal human being would do except sin. He walked our streets, He made friends (the Apostles, Lazarus, Martha and Mary, etc), He wept, He attended the wedding at Cana, and today, we are told He visited Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus.

Last Sunday, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught us to translate thoughts or precepts about love into concrete action. Today, He teaches us about Christian hospitality, because as a human being, He enjoyed the hospitality of His friends.

Abraham displayed his hospitality by receiving and welcoming strangers into his house. He took lovely care of their needs and his kind gesture attracted a blessing. One of the strangers promised that he would have a son by his wife Sarah, very advanced in age. The Holy Scriptures enjoin us; “do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2).

Hospitality is one of the core virtues of the African and Christian cultures. A typical African family setting believes in the joy of welcoming with open arms and sharing what one has with the other person. Unfortunately, our sense of being our brothers/sisters’ keepers is gradually dying out due to highly individualistic disposition. In the face of worsening insecurity, it has become difficult to extend hospitality to those we know and almost impossible to welcome those we don’t know into our homes. The African understanding of hospitality is grounded in the fact that no one exists alone; rather, every individual is part of the whole community.

As a new primary school teacher I was going to my station for the first time. We crossed a big river by canoe, and as it was too late, I joined some Fulani Muslim men to trek a long distance to the next village where they brought me to their house. I was given a mat to sleep on and food to eat. The next day they showed me the way to the next village until I reached my station. That used to be the mutual way Muslims and Christians treated one another. I am afraid; things are fast falling apart unless we really recapture our beautiful culture free of distrust and suspicion.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus at the home of Martha teaches us that charity without expecting profit or reward will not go unrewarded. A little assistance given today (e.g. in the airport, even showing directions) is often accompanied by eyes expectant for a reward. There is a radical shift in understanding and expression of hospitality today which is contributing to social ills such as terrorism, kidnapping, increased number of street children, etc.

Even though at His birth there was no room for Jesus and His parents in the inn (cf. Lk. 2:7); He was not accepted by His own people at Nazareth (cf. Lk. 4:29); He was rejected by the Pharisees, Scribes and Jewish authorities etc., that did not deter him from being a friend of sinners and outcasts, which is why in the second reading, St. Paul admonished the Colossians, that even if they suffer many hardships they should open their hearts and minds to welcome the mystery of Christ and to welcome others on account of Christ.

We are taught today that as Mary sat at the feet of Jesus attentively listening to Him while Martha was busy in the kitchen preparing to serve Jesus, prayer and action must be complementary. Prayer without action is sterile, so action without prayer is empty.

The principal, staff, candidates for confirmation, students, the community of Loyola Jesuit College, Gidan Mangoro, and indeed all of us, Jesus is urging us to sit at His feet and to listen to Him, in our daily life to work and pray and to avoid being egocentric, ethnocentric; fanatical about our religious beliefs and to strike a balance between an active life and prayer. The social media and other related platforms promote activities and leaving little or no time for praying or studying the word of God. Some students even claim they study better with loud music!

We are challenged today to give time to solitude and contemplation. Teachers, doctors, contractors, civil servants, artists, artisans, craftsmen, and musicians, your unique talents can be of great service to the society if you do things according to the inspiration of Christ, and in deep communion with Him.

For us all, and especially, you students, you must create time despite your many activities to be in the presence of Jesus; to listen to His words by participation at daily Masses, Rosary recitation, reading of the Bible and Eucharistic adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and thereby, possess the joy of Martha who ‘received’ Jesus with a generous social disposition and Mary who listened with great attention. Remember that “A busy life makes prayer harder, but prayer makes a busy life easier”.

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