22 July, 2007. XVI Sunday of the Year

 

A Call for Hospitality

Gn 18:1-10; Col 1:24-28; Lk 10:38-42

One important Christian virtue is hospitality in its deepest sense. This is what is highlighted in today’s readings.

 

“Athithi Devo Bhava”, i.e. Guest is God is the ideal of Indian culture, which takes a Christian connotation in “Guest cometh Christ cometh”. In the Bible, God often comes in the guise of a stranger, offering us a free choice to welcome him warmly, ignore him coldly or reject him wickedly. In the episode of Emmaus, Jesus makes as if to go on his way until the two disciples beg him to stay: “Remain with us O Lord, for it is getting dark.” In the Book of Revelations, He just stands at the door and knocks. And, patiently waits for us to open the door. He will not push it open. The choice is ours. It is a free choice, as it was for the rich young man in Mark 10.

 

But if we really open our hearts and our lives to Him, He will change our lives and “the rivers of water will flow out of us giving life.” Life in abundance, life in all its fullness will be our reward, as it was for Abraham and Sara, who, despite their advanced age, are promised a son; as all of us who welcome Jesus in our life are promised a hundredfold.

 

There are many things about hospitality that we have to learn. First of all, it is not merely opening our homes but our hearts and our lives, like Mary of Bethany, or Paul among the Colossians, who share the inmost thoughts and feelings of their guests, identifying themselves totally with the other, even in pain. Secondly, hospitality is not so much doing much for the guest as being with the guest-companionship, friendship, solidarity, empathy! This is what Jesus meant when he spoke to Martha and praised Mary. Thirdly, we are challenged to go beyond the boundaries of blood relationship, kinship and friendship, reaching out to total strangers. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”. Abraham welcomed the strangers not because he saw God in them, but out of the largeness of his heart. When we are large hearted and generous we resemble God. As a result of his spontaneous, warm and generous welcoming of the three strangers into his heart and his home, Abraham had “an encounter with God”. “Whenever you did this to the least of my brothers and sisters you did it to me.”

 

A celebrated artist has immortalized the episode of Abraham’s hospitality to the three strangers in a classic painting that has become a much acclaimed masterpiece where we can see the three guests seated at the table with obvious Eucharistic connotations, even their posture clearly forming the shape of a chalice. Eucharist is the Meal of Brotherhood and Sisterhood to which the Lord invites all humanity transcending the barriers of caste, creed, culture, community, class and country.

 

And so, today’s Eucharist holds many challenges to us – to be broadminded and large-hearted; to be warm and welcoming to the last, the least and the lost; to reach out to those who are lonely, loveless and listless. The choice is ours. But if we do respond, then fullness of life will be our reward.

4 Responses to “22 July, 2007. XVI Sunday of the Year”

  1. francis Menezes Says:

    Dear Manoj,
    Thanks for posting sunday reflections in your Novitiate website. it is really enriching to have them. thanks for your initiative. Mys best wishes to Freddie who gives his generous time to write them.
    with good wishes
    francis sj

  2. sch. John Pradeep SJ Says:

    dear rev. Fr. Manoj…
    great indeed are your works Fr. Manoj
    thought-provoking sunday reflections by Fr.Freddie will definitely set the hearts of young scholastics on fire…
    continue the good work

    yours
    John Pradeep

  3. Selvaraj Arulnathan SJ Says:

    Dear Manoj,
    I wish you, the novice master and the “holy, holy” novices a very and grce-filled feast of our Holy Founder St. Ignatius. Thanks for your greetings and I browsed through your website. It is wonderful and reminds me of my own novitiate days. I congratulate you for this wonderful effort.

    I am also happy that you are keeping a record of the notiviate events which the novices when they grow will cherish and develop a wonderful feeling. May God bless all your efforts to make novitiate spirituality a high tech and IT friendly.

    Blessings and good wishes,
    Selva SJ,
    Loyola University,
    6525 N Sheridan Road
    60626 Chicago, IL

  4. Andre Bruylants, s.j. Says:

    I just got to know your MSJ website yesterday and quickly browsed thru’ its various sections. I found it quite invigorating. The Sunday Reflections from what I have been able to judge so far will prove very useful. Please do continue. It is a service to the whole Assistancy. Andre, SJ

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