Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Gospel Hospitality by Bridget Mary Meehan, A Promise of Presence

Unsplash: John Tecuceanua

Look on the needs of God's holy people as your own;

be generous in offering hospitality.Romans 12:13 (INT)

 Put on the kettle, and make a cup of tea, Mary," my mother instructed whenever company came to our home. That was one of the ways our family offered hospitality: a cup of tea. In fact, one priest I worked with called our home "the tea house." Every day at lunch time, Chaplain Keefe would come to our family room looking for hospitality, which we made readily available with tea, scones and lively conversation.

And there were others who sought the hospitality of our home. I recall the Filipino family who found refuge in our home during a time of crisis; the woman who observed that being a guest in our home was like being embraced by warm sunshine on a cold, dreary day; the countless friends who would stop by for the good­ness they found inside our doors.

One of the wonderful things I recall about convent life was the amount of harmony we achieved through simple one-on-one hospitality. It always seemed like a mystery to me that so many women with different personalities, from different backgrounds, and of different ages could pray, eat, work and live together peacefully in one house. It certainly was not easy. I can remember feeling irritated at a sister who was repeatedly late for chapel, yet Reverend Mother always waited patiently for her before we began prayer. I know, too, that the sisters were annoyed with me when, on more than one occasion, I overcooked their dinner, yet they ate with gratitude and satisfaction. We accepted one another and our selves-warts and all-and tried to treat each other as if each was Christ. That's the secret of hospitality.

Being hospitable means supporting one another's weak­nesses, forgiving one another's failures, and rejoicing in one another's gifts. Being hospitable challenges us to a loving tolerance of those who are different and invites us to bear one another's burdens lovingly. This includes refusing to label those who do not share our views of religion or politics. In a polarized Church and world, more than ever we need the kind of respect for one another that accepts others for who they are, celebrates unity in essentials, invites diversity in non-essentials, and practices love in all things. That's gospel hospitality. That's Christ's vision for us.


Breathe deeply and steadily, and become relaxed and calm. As you inhale, be aware of God's abundant love embracing you. As you exhale, let go of all negativity or hostility toward others. Become conscious that every person in your life reflects God's image and that each relationship is a potential encounter with divinity. Be aware of what you can say and/or do to share God's extravagant love with others today. Who needs a "cup of kindness" from you?


Think of those people in your life you find difficult to love, and focus on one of those relationships. Imagine God inviting both of you to a special dinner. The table is set with your favorite foods. God serves you, heals your relationship, celebrates your reconcilia­tion, and then asks you to serve each other.


Make this your prayer today:
Christ, be in the heart of everyone who thinks of me. Christ, be in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me. Christ, be in every eye that sees me.
Christ, be in every ear that hears me.
St. Patrick's Breastplate


Reflect on those times in your life when you have experienced hospitality. Give thanks for those occasions and the relationships in which you experienced acceptance and warmth. Let the memory of that love fill your soul now. Write a note of gratitude or call a person who treated you as if you were Christ.


Create an affirmation that expresses your warm, welcoming love for another person (or select one of the following) and repeat it as your prayer throughout this day:

(Person's name), I encourage, love and support you. (Person's name), you are God's special image. (Person's name), your kindness reflects God's love. (Person's name), I send you joy and peace.

(Person's name), I will hold you in my heart forever.


Make this your prayer today:

0 Hospitable Welcome, draw us, your people, into your loving embrace. Thank you for being compassionate and understanding. Let us join in the celebration where all gather around your banquet table to sing and dance your praises. 0 God of Abun­dance, may we share food and drink, home and resources, with one another. May we give generously from our own overflowing cups, aware that when we welcome friends and strangers, we welcome you, Christ of the Ages.


Make this your prayer today:

God, why do you keep sending cantankerous, obstinate people into my life, like (name of person)? What have I ever done to deserve such rotten, shabby treatment? I thought I had seen it all, but this takes the cake! (Mention specific behaviors and attitudes about this person that bother you.) I really want to scream at the top of my lungs! I am tired of being treated with such contempt, like a second-class citizen. Help me to look beyond the surface to see the hurts, fears or perhaps terror in (name of person) that are hidden from view. Give me your patience and compassion, that I may glimpse divinity within (name of person). May I accept (name of person) as (she/he) is and discover the gift that you are giving me through (her/him). And I will try, with your grace, to treat (name of person) with respect, to welcome (her/him) the way I welcome you.


(This chapter is from A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver)

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