Archive for category Hospitality

December 21, 2017: Insights on the SIXTH DAY OF SIMBANG GABI

There’s more to Christmas than merry-making, that is, drinking, eating and having fun. There is more to Christmas than giving and receiving of gifts. Christmas is recognizing the coming, the visit, and our encounter with Jesus in every event, place, and people that come our way! Christmas is welcoming Jesus and what He stands for into our heart, into our lives. Christmas is giving a special place, a HOME for JESUS in our HEART and to the One who carries Jesus into our lives! This is what Elizabeth and John the Baptist who was still in her womb did when Mary, the “bearer of God” visits her cousin Elizabeth! “Carry the “HEART OF GOD” and the “GOD OF YOUR HEART” everywhere!”

God is waiting eternally to be born in each one of us – Meister Eckhart

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John 12:1-17 The anointing at Bethany

As Jesus made His way towards Jerusalem where death awaits him, He stopped in the village of Bethany where He was invited to dinner party by a wealthy friend named Simon. In the course of the gathering, a woman interrupted the meal which shocked all those who were present.

What scandalized them? First, they were shocked because the woman who came to Jesus   loosened her hair in public. During that time, to loosen one’s hair in public even for a married woman, was a sign of grave immodesty. Second, they were shocked because the woman wasted lot of money when she anointed Jesus’ feet with precious ointment. When Mary anointed Jesus with an oil worth a whole year’s wages, Judas protested that the perfume could have been sold. It would have brought three hundred silver pieces (he’ll betray Jesus for just thirty), and then the money could have been given to the poor. Jesus, however, fully aware that he is a traitor, unconcerned about the poor,  and a thief.

The contrast between Judas and Mary of Bethany is powerful. Mary spent what she had on “very costly ointment” in a gesture of love, affection, and respect. While Judas complained for losing the money that does not belong to him in the guise of being concern for the poor.

How did Jesus react to that given situation? Jesus defended what the woman did for him out of gratitude and thanksgiving and then used that occasion to teach them about the virtue of hospitality and his imminent passion and death in the hands of the scribes and the pharisees who will deliver him to the pagans to be mocked, crucified and be killed.

For Jesus hospitality is more than just welcoming a guest into one’s house. It is more than just serving a guest with food and drink. For Jesus, hospitality is, above all, welcoming someone what he stands for or represents. This is the reason why he praised what Mary did to him than Martha who prepared everything for their meal when he visited their home once. On that ocassion Mary both as a friend and a disciple welcomed Jesus and what he stands for and represents.

Today is Monday of the Holy Week. On this day,  let us reflect on the prophetic anointing of Jesus by a woman named Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus who were close friends of Jesus), which foreshadowed Jesus’ imminent death, honored Him as God’s anointed, and poured out to Him love and devotion too deep for words. Her action reminds us that our journey through Holy Week is a matter of the heart.

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Luke 10:38-42 Martha and Mary

Ancient oriental culture puts a high premium on hospitality. It was considered a great honor to serve strangers. The people believed they were serving God by serving their fellow man. The people of the East base this custom on the belief that something of God is in each person. Therefore, they were very welcoming, protective and courteous to strangers. Today, in an age when picking up hitchhikers is risky and people fear strangers, true hospitality is rare.

What is hospitality? What does it mean to be hospitable?

Hospitality, in Hebrew, literally means “the bringing in of guests and strangers.”   Scripture is thick with this practice. More than once, God instructs his people to welcome the stranger because “you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” In Genesis 18, Abraham gives food to three strangers who turn out to be angels come to announce Isaac’s birth (it is to this event that Hebrews 13:2 refers when it instructs, “Do not forget to welcome strangers; for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”). The apostle Paul placed such a high value on hospitality that he listed it—along with temperance, sobriety, and gentleness—among the characteristics required of church leader.

What are some of the stages of hospitality?

·     First, welcoming or the bringing in of guests and strangers. This also involves setting aside and preparing a welcoming space for the guest, stranger and the needy in our home and family.

·     Second, the feeding and lodging of the guest, stranger, and the needy. In doing this your making your home and family a place of refuge and security for them. The basis of this is love and the understanding that all we have is from God and meant to be shared with others. Hence, hospitality is the overflowing of a heart that has to share what it has received.

·     Third, the availability, the opening up of oneself, and the welcoming of the guest and the stranger into our hearts.  As Christians, we aren’t meant simply to invite people into our homes, but into our lives as well. More so if our guest is Christ who is our Lord, Teacher and Savior.

This is the reason when Martha was distracted by her tasks came and asked Jesus: ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me'” (Lk 10:40). Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:41-42). Mary, by making herself available to Jesus in listening, has chosen the better part and has served the Lord in greatest hospitality as a host, friend and as a disciple of Jesus.

Christians and Jews hold in common one theological basis for hospitality: the Creation. Creation is the ultimate expression of God’s hospitality to his creatures. In the words of one rabbi, everything God created is a “manifestation of his kindness. [The} world is one big hospitality inn.” As church historian Amy Oden has put it, “God offers hospitality to all humanity … by establishing a home … for all.” To invite people into our home is to respond with gratitude to the God who made a home for us.

God calls us to do the same, not just in our homes or schools or places of business but, most especially, in our hearts. There, in such an intimate place of hospitality, we will come to hear God’s word of Love and salvation, spoken through the least of our brothers and sisters whom Jesus has identified himself when he said: “Whenever you do this to one of the least brethren of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

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