We Show Hospitality to God When We Show Hospitality to Others

Homily – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
July 1-2, 2017
Sacred Heart, EGF – 5:30 PM, 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM

First Weekend Homily as a Priest.
First Homily at Sacred Heart in East Grand Forks.

Focus:              We show hospitality to God when we show hospitality to others.
Function:        See God in others and show them hospitality.


Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

Last weekend I was in Oklahoma City for the ordination of a classmate. After the ordination, I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend that I had not seen in a long time. My friend wanted to take his mom, his brother, and me on a boat ride through the canal that cuts through Oklahoma City. We stood in line to buy our tickets. I was wearing my collar, and I was chatting with my friend’s mother when I noticed a man in front of us ask my friend if there were four in our group. My friend said, “Yes,” and the man turned back to the ticket window. My friend’s mom hadn’t noticed the interaction, so I said to her, “I think the man in front of us is going to buy our tickets.” Sure enough, I then overheard him tell the man working in the ticket booth, “I’ll buy four additional tickets for the group behind me.” The man tried to slip away without being noticed, but I was able to step up and thank him for his generosity, for his great hospitality.

The word “hospitality” comes from the Greek word philoxenia, which means “love of strangers.” To extend hospitality to someone means to welcome guests or strangers. To extend hospitality is to receive someone who is an outsider and to change them from a stranger into a guest. The man who bought our tickets did not know I was a visitor to the city, but I was certainly a stranger, and he showed great hospitality by his generosity.

All four of us were strangers to him, and yet he saw something. I know that he saw me wearing my collar, and so when he looked at me he saw Christ, and he saw an opportunity to show hospitality to God by showing hospitality to me and to my friends.

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

In his rule of life for his monks, Saint Benedict challenges his brothers to welcome all guests as if they were Christ. He does so because he knows that we show hospitality to God when we show hospitality to others. I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Whatever you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me. (MT 25). Christ is hidden in the brother or sister standing right in front of us. We are all made in the image and likeness of God, and when we are reborn in the waters of baptism, we become sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven, and we become brothers and sisters to each other.

The Letter to the Hebrews urges us with these words: Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels (Hebrews 13:2). Indeed, the Old Testament contains several stories of angels appearing to people as guests on a journey. In receiving the strangers in their midst, these characters in the Old Testament received God.

In the first reading, we hear the story of a woman showing hospitality to Elisha the prophet because she knows he is a holy man of God. She does not show hospitality just because it is a nice thing to do. No, she shows hospitality because she recognizes who Elisha is – she recognizes his identity as a prophet. So, she gives of herself to make him feel welcome. In Biblical times, most people slept on the floor. They did not sit in chairs. Yet, this woman not only gives Elisha a room in her home, but she furnishes the room with a bed, table, chair, and lamp. She gives of herself at great cost to make Elisha feel comfortable in her home. She shows him great respect. She makes him feel welcome in her home. She receives someone who is a stranger and turns him into a guest.

She shows hospitality to God by showing hospitality to another. And I say to you that she surely did not lose her reward.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord is inviting us today through the Scriptures to remember who we are: sons and daughters of a Father who loves us, children of light who are on the way to our true home in Heaven. And in the light of that great truth, he reminds us to develop a heart that sees this truth.

He reminds us to develop a heart of hospitality.

Hospitality is what makes the difference between a house and a home. And so, I ask you: Is your heart a house or is it a home?

Is your heart a home where others find welcome or is it a haunted house that scares them away?

Is your heart a home where others feel like family or a house where they feel like unwanted intruders merely to be tolerated for a time until they leave and I can finally get back to my life?

Do you see others as your brothers and sisters in Christ, made in the image and likeness of a God who loves them dearly, so dearly that he gave his only Son as the price of their redemption – a God who waits for the day when his children will complete their pilgrimage of life and finally come to his home in Heaven?

Is your heart a heart of repentance? Have you experienced his hospitality in the confessional where he waits to welcome you back so that you can extend him true hospitality when you welcome him into your heart in the Eucharist?

Is your heart furnished with the lamp of love and the bed of silence and prayer so that the Lord can come and rest within you?

Brothers and sisters, behold the truth of who we are. We are adopted children of the Father thru our baptism – children of light journeying to our true home in heaven. Our Lord Jesus Christ has gone before us to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house – a house with many dwelling places.

Can we not prepare a place for him here in our hearts?

The man who bought our tickets saw God in us. That was the reason why he bought the tickets. He showed hospitality to God by showing hospitality to us, and we experienced the hospitality of God through his kindness.

We are made in the image and likeness of God, and that means that we show hospitality to God when we show hospitality to each other. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. We show hospitality to God who dwells in us when we show hospitality to each other.

Let us help each other along the way.  Let us furnish not only our homes with desks, beds, and lamps but also our hearts with love, compassion and generosity.  Let us open the homes of our hearts to each other.  Let us receive one another, and in receiving one another, let us receive Christ. Let us receive him in one another with the same reverence with which we receive him in this Eucharist.

I say to you, if we do this, we will surely not lose our reward.

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