Thursday, July 14, 2022

God as guest

Initial reflections on Sunday's readings 
Genesis 18: 1-19; Luke 10: 28-32

When I visit someone here in Honduras. I am almost always asked if I want a coffee. But much more than coffee arrives – often locally baked sweet bread.

I remember when I was in El Salvador in the countryside in the 1990s; people would offer me a tortilla – but that meant tortilla, beans, cheese, and coffee – a complete meal. 

Hospitality is a part of the culture. Their generous hospitality continues to astound me.
But it’s not always just food that is offered. When people want to talk and share a bit of their lives, I feel even more welcomed.

I wonder if this is not part of lesson we can find in the story of Jesus with Mary and Martha.

Jesus does not reprimand Martha for serving. Note how Jesus responds to the woman washing his feet at the table of Simon the leper. Note how he identifies himself as the servant of all.

The problem is that we sometimes get so involved in the details of serving that we forget to welcome the other as a person, to listen to her and to dialogue with him. Doing something replaces the harder discipline of listening and, in terms of Jesus, being a disciple.

I think this can also be applied to our work with the poor. Do we just provide the food or the clothes or the shelter? Do we really get to know the person, his family, her name?

It’s dangerous to get to know someone. We might love the person enough to sacrifice ourselves for her (and not just offer a little food). We might be moved by his story of losing his job, migrating to the US, and getting deported – and then start advocating for migrants. We might hear the young man talk about his use of alcohol and cocaine and his desire to change – and wondering what in the world I can do with him.

It might mean making ourselves neighbors of those who fall among thieves – not just common thieves but victims of white collar criminals.

It might mean listening to the poor – as Mary listened to Jesus.

God is our guest and comes to us in many disguises, just as the three men came to visit Abraham and Sarah.

Will we invite these guests to our table – as God invites us to his table? And will we listen?

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