Biblical Hospitality

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

On this sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, we welcome Christ our Brother and Guest. The themes of today’s readings are the importance of hospitality in Christian life and the necessity of listening to God before acting.

Today’s first reading describes Abraham welcoming three men who arrive in front of his tent. Immediately Abraham rushes to greet the strangers, bows before them, and invites them to partake of his hospitality. The visitors accept his invitation. Abraham tells Sarah to prepare a generous amount of food for their guests. After the meal, as they take leave, they promise to return in a year and by that time Sarah will be the mother of a son. This was the reward for their hospitality, granted to them by God Himself.

Again we have a beautiful example of hospitality in the Book of 1st Kings, chapter 17. During the famine, God told Elijah to find a woman in town and she would feed him. Elijah found the woman and asked her for something to eat. The woman said she only had a little flour and oil left to feed herself and her son. Elijah promised that if she shared her food with him, she would not run out. The widow had faith in the prophet and shared her food. Each day, there was enough food for them to eat. It was a miracle. Then the widow’s son got sick and died. But Elijah brought him back to life. The woman was blessed for listening to the prophet.

In the New Testament, Jesus practiced hospitality and He received it. He ate with sinners and tax collectors. Accepting their hospitality was not just about sharing a meal, it was a way of identifying with them and making them a part of His people.

Today’s Gospel describes how Martha, a genuine child of Abraham, wanted to extend generous hospitality to Jesus by preparing a meal for him. Meanwhile, her sister Mary spent her time with Jesus and listening to him. Martha was a woman of strength who carried the responsibilities of her family’s needs. It was Martha’s home that had become the place of renewal for Jesus and His disciples. Martha shows us that hospitality is a ministry and a vocation. It restores and refreshes the hearts and souls of those most in need.

We also have Zacchaeus in the New Testament, who welcomed Jesus into his house and gave Him a feast. People saw this and grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner”. At that time, Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” At that movement Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house since he also is a son of Abraham.” Hospitality brings salvation to Zacchaeus

Ultimately, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is a meal. We listen to God speak to us through the readings and we respond in prayer. The Eucharist is the sacrifice of Jesus offered to his Father in the context of a community meal. It is the Lord’s Supper. Through it we have life.

Yes, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, Jesus needs our attention, because He has something to teach us every day. After listening to Jesus, we must put it into action by helping others who are in need, as did Abraham, the Widow of Zarephath, Zacchaeus, and Martha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: