XIII SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
2 kings 4:8-11, 14-16a; romans 6:3-4, 8-11; matthew 10:37-42
i arrived home last sunday evening; my mum and brother were at the gate to welcome me. early the following morning, my sister and her family arrived from the states. my brother and i were on the main road to receive them; the rest of the family was in the apartment with open arms! it feels good to be welcomed so warmly.
what’s true for my sis and me is true for everybody. everyone wants and loves to be welcomed.
the prophet elisha (first reading), perhaps, felt the same when the shunemite woman welcomed him and was hospitable to him.
the woman was childless. in a culture that saw barrenness a curse, she would have felt the negative opinion of her neighbours; she might have had a sense of guilt.
but she didn’t focus on her condition. instead, she welcomed elisha to her home, and extended hospitality to this «holy man of GOD». her hospitality was extravagant—not just food, she gave him a furnished room…. «so that when he comes to us he can go in there.» how thoughtful, how sensitive, how generous!
and, though her hospitality had no strings attached, she received her reward! GOD acted powerfully for the woman because she was kind to one of his own.
the message about hospitality finds an echo in the gospel. jesus continues to instruct his disciples before he sends them out. he reminds them about the cost of discipleship, and then encourages them not to worry. for, as they travel with his message, they will meet people, like the shunemite woman, who will recognize them as prophets, righteous men, and disciples. he reassures them that they will find a welcome and hospitality.
the liturgy challenges us to be a welcoming and caring people.
today we find people joining new sects. why? they feel welcome, they experience fellowship and love, care and concern.
we need to open our hearts to others and, like the shunemite woman, to build room for others… in our lives and hearts. we need to return to biblical hospitality!
let me pick one person whom i will welcome in my life, for whom i will build a room in my heart. how will i welcome and be hospitable to this person in the week ahead?