July 21, 2019
16th Sun Ord Time
10 am & 4:30 pm
Genesis 18:1-10a; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42
There was a Catholic family that invited some guests over for dinner. So they prepared all week…They scurried around: bought the groceries, cleaned the house inside & out and on the day of the dinner they prepared the meal. It was finally time to eat but as all good Catholics they gathered around the table with their invited guests to say grace. The mom of the host family looked down at her 6 year old daughter and said, “Mary, why don’t you say the prayer.” Mary looked up and said, “Oh mommy, I wouldn’t know what to say.” Her mom said, “Just say what you hear mommy say.” So the little girl bowed her head and said, “Oh Lord, why on earth did we invite all these people to dinner?!!”
Our readings today speak to us loud and clear about “hospitality”. Namely “Christian hospitality”. In the Gospel we hear about one of the most famous dinner parties ever thrown: Martha & Mary showing hospitality by hosting the Lord Jesus in their home. And in the first reading Abraham & Sarah show hospitality by hosting 3 unexpected visitors which some say represent the Holy Trinity or 3 angels.
Hospitality is a hallmark, a characteristic of Christian discipleship and of living stewardship as a way of life. So what exactly is “hospitality”? The definition comes from the root word “hospitable” which means “to welcome, to be receptive, to treat guests with warmth and generosity”. But Christian hospitality takes it even further. Christian hospitality is welcoming others whether they are friend or stranger, whether you like them or not so much (why?) because we recognize Jesus within each person we encounter. Christian hospitality is making a person feel welcomed, wanted, valued and appreciated simply because they are God’s creation. When we show hospitality to the other no matter who they are we are showing hospitality to Jesus Himself as Abraham and Sarah did and as Martha and Mary did. That’s the difference between normal hospitality and Christian hospitality. We see and welcome Jesus in every person we encounter.
So back to the sisters Martha and Mary. We all know the story. Martha met Jesus outside the house and scurried around inside to actively serve the Lord. While Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to Him speak. So…which one are you? Are you a Martha (busy, active, doing, doing)? Or are you a Mary (contemplative, quiet, reserved)? Well, in discipleship, stewardship and in spiritual terms both are essential. In discipleship we need to be like both Mary and Martha…But in the Gospel on the surface Jesus seems to indicate otherwise as He tells Martha who had been busy serving, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.” Jesus seems to be indicating that Mary has it right. We only need to sit at His feet. But the key is the next verse, “Mary has chosen the better part.” Meaning discipleship and Christian hospitality have 2 parts: part 1 – (most important) sit at the Lord’s feet like Mary, part 2 – service (action) like Martha. To practice true, authentic Christian hospitality which we are all called to, first we must sit at the Lord’s feet. We must “welcome” Him every single day of our life: welcome Him in prayer & in His Word, at Sunday Mass and in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. And remember scripture said, “Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to Him speak.” In other words we need to SHUT UP sometimes and let Jesus get a word in…When we “welcome” Him into our lives, when we have a personal relationship with Him then we are propelled (empowered) to part 2 which is action, which is serving.
This is a continuation from last week’s Gospel, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, being, strength & mind (part 1) and your neighbor as yourself (part 2).” They cannot be separated but go hand-in-hand. Both are essential. Time with the Lord without service is pointless, it is incomplete…On the other hand service, doing, doing, doing without time before the Lord is doing with our own human power not God’s. We won’t last (burn-out). Time with the Lord empowers us to love our neighbor (every person we encounter) even those who are difficult to love & welcome.
Now hospitality not only means to invite someone over for dinner but means in all aspects of life. In means to make all feel welcome, to treat all kindly and with generosity in all places: in our homes (family - which may be the most difficult), at our jobs or school, in the market place and places of business and especially here at Church. Treat all with respect, with warmth, with love and kindness. Why? Because we see Jesus in each and every person and because we are discples of Christ and stewards of the Gospel.
And when we practice true Christian hospitality, when we bless Jesus in the other person or in the Church community, He always blesses us back even more. In the 1st reading the scripture said Abraham & Sarah offered a “little food” to his guests. So he had his wife Sarah prepare fresh rolls from fine flour. He picked out a tender, choice steer and had his servant cook it. And he gave his guests curds and milk. Now that’s not a “little food!” That’s like if you had unexpected guests and you asked your wife to go make some homemade tortillas or tamales! Or go roll some lumpia! And you put some carne asada on the grill! *Abraham & Sarah gave of their best in Christian hospitality. And what did their guests promise them? “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.” Sarah and Abraham who were childless were going to be blessed beyond their wildest dreams: a child for her who had been barren. My friends, we cannot out give God. When we give and offer our best in Christian hospitality whether it is to an individual, to a family or to our parish community in time, talent & treasure we will be blessed in some awesome way! God guarantees it!
In closing, hospitality is a hallmark, a characteristic of Christian discipleship and of living stewardship as a way of life. As disciples of Christ we are all called to Christian hospitality in every aspect of our lives. But we must remember there are 2 parts (Martha & Mary). The first and most important part is to spend time daily siting at the Lord’s feet, welcoming Him into our heart and lives. Abraham & Sarah welcomed the 3 visitors (Holy Trinity) into their tent. Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus into their home. Our tent and our home first and foremost is our lives, is our heart and mind. When we welcome the Lord into our “tent” then we are propelled to Christian hospitality to each person we encounter because in them we see Christ Himself.
I leave you with a saying I seen on a picture frame that I thought would close out this homily nicely, “Be my guest whether you come in to visit or just to rest. When you enter my home…may you be blessed.”