THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF HOSPITALITY – WELCOMING CHRIST IN HIS MESSENGERS
First Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-11,13-16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 88(89):2-3,16-19
Second Reading: Romans 6:3-4,8-11
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:37-42
In the tapestry of our lives, there are moments when the threads of ordinary encounters are interwoven with the divine, unveiling profound truths and leaving an indelible mark on our souls. Such is the power of hospitality, the art of welcoming and embracing others with open hearts and open doors, and eventually embracing the blessings that come with it. Put in other words, in the realm of hospitality, there lies a profound and awe-inspiring power—a power that transcends mere acts of kindness and extends into the realm of the sacred. It is a power that opens doors not only to strangers but also to the divine, inviting the presence of God Himself into our midst. This power, this virtue of hospitality, is beautifully woven into the tapestry of today’s liturgical texts, where we encounter stories and teachings that reveal the transformative potential that lies within the simple act of welcoming and embracing others, and in this context, God’s messengers. It is in these moments of hospitality that we have the privilege of encountering Christ Himself, hidden in the guise of His messengers. The readings from 2 Kings, the Psalms, Romans, and Matthew reveal the transformative nature of hospitality, inviting us to reflect on the profound impact of welcoming Christ through His messengers.
Beginning with the First reading, we are introduced to the story of the Shunammite woman, who embodies the essence of hospitality. Whenever the prophet Elisha passed through her town, she would graciously invite him to partake in a meal, recognizing him as a holy man of God. Her hospitality was not merely an act of politeness, but a sincere and heartfelt gesture of reverence and love for the divine presence she recognized in Elisha. In response to her selfless kindness, Elisha prophesied blessings upon her, and her barrenness was transformed into the joyous gift of motherhood. Relating to this message, the Responsorial Psalm resounds with praise for the faithfulness of the Lord. It reminds us of God’s steadfast love and His covenant with His people. As recipients of such divine love, we are called to emulate God’s faithfulness in our actions, particularly in our practice of hospitality. By extending hospitality to others, we mirror the faithfulness of God and create a sacred space where His presence can be experienced by those we welcome.
In consonance with the lessons above, the Second Reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (6:3-4,8-11) expounds on the transformative power of baptism. Through the waters of baptism, we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection, becoming partakers of His divine life. This union with Christ opens us to the boundless love and hospitality that emanate from Him. Needless to say, the act of baptism signifies our entrance into the family of God, where we become part of the body of Christ. It is a symbol of our acceptance of Christ’s work on the cross and our commitment to follow Him. Through baptism, we embrace the hospitality of Christ, who welcomes us into His fold. Moreover, as believers who have experienced the transformative power of Christ, we are called to extend hospitality to others. Just as Christ has welcomed us, we should extend hospitality to others, offering them love, grace, and acceptance. This includes welcoming others into the community of believers and sharing the message of the gospel, inviting them to experience the newness of life found in Christ.
Shedding a radical light required of Christ’s disciples, the Gospel reading from Matthew (10:37-42), illustrates Christ’s exhortation for us to prioritize Him above all else, even above our familial bonds and worldly attachments. This radical surrender to Christ allows us to recognize and welcome Him in the least expected places—in the faces of strangers, the poor, the marginalized, the missionaries, and the messengers He sends into our lives. When we offer a simple cup of water or a heartfelt gesture of kindness to these messengers, we are, in fact, welcoming Christ Himself. This gesture, Christ tells us, always goes with its reward. Likewise do we also see the reward for hospitality in the first reading.
Dear friends, hospitality is no ordinary virtue; it is a sacred invitation to partake in the divine dance of love and communion and become beneficiaries of God’s blessings. It is not a mere act of politeness or a superficial exchange of pleasantries. It is a profound invitation to welcome Christ Himself through His messengers. Today’s readings from 2 Kings, Psalms, Romans, and Matthew remind us that hospitality has the power to transform lives, reveal the divine presence in our midst, and draw us closer to the heart of God. When we think of missionaries, we often imagine those who venture into distant lands, carrying the light of faith and serving communities in need. These brave souls embark on a journey of self-sacrifice, leaving behind the comfort of their homes and the familiarities of their native lands. They embody the very essence of hospitality, as they open their hearts and lives to those they encounter along their path. But in this beautiful dance of giving and receiving, we must remember that the missionaries themselves are in need of hospitality, for they carry within them the presence of Christ. To welcome Christ in the lives of His missionaries is to recognize their sacred calling and offer them solace, support, and encouragement. It is to acknowledge the immense weight they bear, the challenges they face, and the sacrifices they make. In their tireless efforts to sow seeds of faith and heal broken spirits, they often encounter resistance, loneliness, and uncertainty. Thus, it becomes our duty as fellow travelers on this earthly pilgrimage to extend the hand of hospitality, to provide a haven where their weary souls can find respite and rejuvenation.
I dare to say that hospitality towards Christ’s missionaries goes beyond mere physical shelter and sustenance. It encompasses a warm embrace of friendship, a listening ear, and an empathetic heart. It is the willingness to walk alongside them, sharing their joys and sorrows, celebrating their victories, and comforting them in their defeats. It is the gift of time and attention, a genuine interest in their stories, and a sincere desire to understand the depth of their experiences. When we extend hospitality to Christ’s missionaries, we become conduits of divine grace, vessels through which love flows freely. In our acts of kindness and generosity, we manifest Christ’s presence in the world. We become co-creators of a global community built on compassion, understanding, and unity. The impact of our hospitality reverberates far beyond the immediate interactions—it extends to the lives touched by the missionaries themselves, the communities they serve, and the transformational ripple effects that ensue.
Therefore, as we embrace the noble calling of welcoming Christ in the lives of His missionaries, we also invite Him into our own lives. For in giving, we receive. In supporting others, we find strength. In offering hospitality, we are enriched beyond measure. The act of welcoming Christ’s messengers becomes a profound spiritual practice—a means of connecting with the divine within ourselves and fostering a deeper understanding of our shared humanity. Let us, then, cultivate a culture of hospitality—a culture that recognizes the sacredness of each person, honors their unique journey, and opens the door to transformative encounters. May we be the kind of people who radiate warmth, acceptance, and love, inviting Christ to dwell in our hearts and the hearts of those who tirelessly carry His message. And in doing so, may we witness the beauty of hospitality transforming lives, communities, and ultimately, the world.
Above all, may we be inspired by the examples set before us and embrace the transformative nature of hospitality. Let us open our hearts and homes, recognizing Christ in the stranger, and offering them the gift of authentic love and acceptance. In doing so, we become instruments of God’s peace, bearing witness to the transformative power of hospitality and the radiant love of Christ in our world.
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© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
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