The Importance of Hospitality
We are used to saying, ‘God is Love’ and in modern times we have emphasised the covenant relationship with God through Jesus as being initiated by God out of love. But the word love is not all that easy to understand. St Ignatius says, “it expresses itself in deeds rather than words”. If that is true then one of the deeds that always expresses love is hospitality.
Over the years I have noticed how the spirit thrives in a parish when there is a real effort to welcome all. Hospitality builds relationships and this can be so life-giving for those who are new to an area or community or are feeling lonely. In short hospitality transforms both individuals and community. So it doesn’t take an expert to conclude how important this gift is for Vincentians.
In tikanga Māori hospitality to a visitor is vital to the life of the marae. That is why you can’t go onto one unless you are formally welcomed with what is called the ‘Powhiri’. This concludes with the Hongi, the pressing of noses together: Hōmai tōu iho, kia whakakotahi tō taua wairua: give me your nose that our spirits might be one. There is a also saying among Māori: “Tangata takahi manuhiri, he marae puehu”: “if the visitor is insulted, the marae becomes contaminated.”
We can but admire the hospitality embedded in this ancient culture, but it would be worthless unless done in love. That is why Christians need to go to the source of love, namely God. By pondering certain scripture texts we will discover that God is truly hospitable. I believe that it is the most effective instrument we all have for the work of evangelisation. God is revealed when people feel they belong.
Let us take a moment to ponder the following scriptures:
- Master, ‘where do you live?’. Jesus replied: Come and see”. (Jn 1:35-39)
- Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water” … when the steward tasted the water, it had become wine”. Jn 2:1-12.
- I am going now to prepare a place for you
- Make the people sit down
- And he got up from the table and began to wash the feet of his disciples
- Remain in my love
DISCUSSION: Take one of the texts and share why you think it explains the hospitality of God.
Spirit of God,
Give me the grace to see others
As you see them.
Let me welcome the stranger
As a gift from you for this day.
Let my love for you
Be felt within them
Let my acceptance of them
Be the catalyst of their awakening