I would like to reflect a little bit on hospitality. I think this generation might be lacking in hospitality. Thankfully, this is not always true. I just had a wonderful experience with some former parishioners who are dear friends. They had me over to their house for dinner.
The guests included another priest and another one of their friends and their kids. It was a great meal. It always is a great meal at their house. They served this wonderful meal and, as all gracious hosts do, they made it seem effortless.
It is a constant “what can we do to make you happy and to bring you joy.” After the serving of the meal, I got to stay a little bit later just to talk to them about some things.
It was so great because we had some beautiful quality time together. We literally sat around outside at the picnic table, and we talked for an hour or two.
As I was driving home that night, I was so absolutely grateful for them. I was so grateful for their friendship. I was grateful for the dinner. I was grateful for being in their presence. I realized that they really were in that instance Mary for me. They almost sat at my feet and allowed me to share, and they shared. We all talked about the different struggles and the joys that we go through in life.
What was so wonderful about this time was that there was no preoccupation. There was no anxiousness or being worried about a thing. Sometimes you go to somebody’s house, and you can tell they are not so happy to have you.
It becomes a big deal for them to do all these things. Anyone that has hosted anybody knows all of the stressful things. If we let that stress get in the way of this personal encounter of just being with someone, we really miss out on the experience that I think God wants to have for us.
In this gospel, we get a glimpse of a meal. Jesus is just focusing on one aspect, but this aspect really can radiate through our whole lives. How do we treat a meal? How do we treat hosting somebody? How do we treat hospitality?
Ideally, we are not anxious and worried about everything being right. We are not anxious and worried about impressing them. We are not anxious and worried about the house being immaculate. We are just glad to be with them.
Maybe you have had the experience where you go to a house and you can just tell there is tension there. Somebody is worried and anxious about everything, and there is not that sense and presence of being with you.
When I was leaving, I told them how wonderful it was for me and how grateful I was that they did this. They said that they love having people over to their house and that they do it all the time but none of their friends invite them over. They think that most people are apprehensive about inviting people into their personal space.
It is something that people do not do anymore. We do not invite people into our homes, or into our lives, or into our personal space. Yet we see here both Martha and Mary do this for the Lord.
Martha was the one that welcomed him, and Mary sat at his feet listening to him speak. Sure, Martha gets it a little bit wrong because she is anxious and worried about everything, and Jesus just wants to be with them.
I now offer this as a reflection. First of all, think about the practicality of sharing a meal together. Are we hospitable? Do we invite people into our home? When is the last time you had someone in your home and shared a meal with them? Maybe it is time to do that – time to catch up with a friend that you have not done that within a long time. Time to do that for someone that needs it. That is lonely.
Somebody that is going through a difficult time or grieving the loss of a loved one. There is nothing like going to somebody’s home that is just so warm and welcoming. I invite you as you do it to try and do it in a way that you are not anxious or worried about it.
Do not freak out about it. You will find that the people that really love you and look up to you appreciate you just as you are.
They appreciate your home just as it is – even the things that might be out of place. The amazing thing is that we could be entertaining angels.
We could actually be entertaining Jesus himself when we welcome a stranger into our home or when we welcome someone that we would like to get to know more. I invite you to do that.
Plan a meal to find someone you would like to invite to your home to allow yourself to be attentive to them, care for them, listen to them, serve them, feed them, and nurture them.
Do it all with grace and without any anxiety or preoccupation. I have a good idea that if you do that, not only will you have an amazing experience, but the person that you have invited into your home will as well. Who knows – it might become a lifelong and wonderful friendship.
So, do not be worried and anxious about all the other things, invite someone into your home. Treat them like they are Jesus and allow that same peace, same joy and same hospitality to radiate through you with somebody else in our world.