In both readings we hear of the rewards of faithfulness and persistence. In the first reading, those who speak the truth about the faith are to receive the reward of hospitable hosts. The hosts themselves receive a letter addressing this issue alone. In the Gospel, the woman finally receives the reward of justice for her persistence; her faithfulness in pursuing her needs and desires. My initial tendency was to reflect and write from the faithful person’s point of view- those who were looking to receive their just reward. However, as I pray and reflect more, I am compelled to experience these readings from the vantage point of the benefactors- those who have something to give. Therein lies the challenge for me.
John is quite clear in his message to this church that they have something to give and are responsible to give it. By receiving genuine teachers and showing them hospitality, the Christians in the church are entering into the work of spreading the truth about the faith. In this letter, John implies that hospitality is an important ministry of the Church! That proclamation is made far too little in today’s Church. How often do we see the importance of being hospitable persons ourselves? Do we understand that by being people of simple hospitality, of warmth and generosity, we are making Christ present to the world?
When I go to Colorado to visit my mother, I can see her from my car as I drive up to the door. She is always sitting in a chair looking out the window waiting for me. Even if I’m an hour or two late, she’s watching out the window. And almost before I’m out of the car, she is running toward me with outstretched arms and a big smile on her face. I can’t think of anything else that makes me feel more welcomed and loved. There is no doubt that she is glad I’m there and that my presence is important to her.
The image of my mom reminds me of how more hospitality is needed in our communities. How many of us have that experience of warmth and welcome when we arrive at our places of worship or those places where our “family” of faith gather? And more importantly, how involved are we in making those around us in our communities, on campus, in church, feel that way, especially newcomers and those on the fringes? Do we make them feel that others really care that they came? Do we convey that we would miss them if they weren’t there? Do they know by our response to them that they are an important part of the body of Christ?
I want to convey to those around me that they are welcome and their presence is valued. How great if I can show the same spirit of welcome and hospitality toward others who enter my world that my mom shows me every time I enter hers. And perhaps, if we are able to share this act of faith with each other, there can be a resounding “yes!” to the rhetorical yet pointed question in the Gospel that Jesus poses to each of us today.
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