Hospitality is essential and indispensable to enrich peace and harmony in both human and spiritual relationships. Hospitality is a noble attitude extended from generous hearts; extended by those who have as high respect for strangers as for themselves. In the spiritual life, welcoming the Spirit of God is even more urgent. It is about a desire to be with God, and a wish to receive God’s Spirit to grow in holiness like God. Do we want to welcome God and His gifts into our lives? Today’s readings give us 4 examples of welcoming God.
First example: we learned that Sarah prepared a meal for their guests by following her husband’s instructions. Likewise in our religious life, some of us may attend mass because someone requires; others of us may do volunteer work to satisfy our own ego or needs. God and His grace may no longer be the true priority in our faith and our actions anymore.
Second example: we see that Martha was worried and anxious about preparing the big meal all alone. She was upset that no one helped her. As a result, she came out to complain to Jesus and told the Lord what to do, “Lord, you do not care that my sister has left me by myself. Tell her to help me.” Wow, how pushy could Martha be? But did the Lord really want Martha to spend her time and energy cooking? Does this story sound familiar to us? We are sometimes so self-confident and stuck in our roles that we forget that we could be sharing in something different, and maybe even better. We focus only on ourselves and try to make others listen and follow only our ideas. We totally forget about the Spirit in others’ and their right to participate joyfully in community, just as all of us should do. That is why when we are faced with disappointment or difficulty, we so easy forget our past joy, we quit our ministry, and leave the church entirely!
Third: Mary was humble and sat at the Lord’s feet. She gazed on Him, and listened attentively to him speak. Her heart was full of joy and peace. She responded to Jesus’ words with much joy, just as a baby gazes at his mother’s funny words and actions, and bursts out giggling and laughing. Have we ever spent time alone with the Lord just like Mary or like the baby with his mother? Have we ever felt so blessed to discover a profound insight from the word of the Lord that our heart bursts out laughing in gratitude?
The last example was the attitude of Abraham. Abraham looked for the Lord patiently even as the day was growing hot in the desert. When he met the 3 angels, he begged them to stay over at his tent, and he immediately asked the whole family to prepare the meal for their guests. He offered what he had and he never left his guests alone but waited on them while they ate. What about us? How sincerely do we seek Jesus? Do we invite Him into our home as a family? Do we wish our family to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so the whole family could grow in holiness together?
In the Second Reading, Saint Paul reveals to us a secret: the mystery of Christ was hidden from ages to ages. In the beginning, salvation was given only to the chosen people of Israel, not to the gentiles. Now, we all are saved through Christ. However, Salvation results from our choice. It is about our choice to actively welcome the Lord. So what attitude should we have to express our love and thankfulness to God? What should we do to make our voluntary works become more meaningful for our spiritual life?
In the journey of faith, we should pray for one another, and to pray for our humility to search and welcome the presence of God in our daily lives. We should hunger for being with God, so we can be sanctified by God’s grace, so we can be more kind to people around us, just as St. Francis of Assisi said, “Sanctify yourselves and you will sanctify society.”
Dcn. John Vu Hien