Proper 8 – Year A
Genesis 22:1-4; Psalm 13 (or Jeremiah 28:5-9; Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18); Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42
“There is no hospitality like understanding.” – Vanna Bonta
When we welcome others we welcome Jesus, and thereby welcome God’s self. (Matthew 10:40) In this passage Jesus summarizes the power and motivation behind his practice of hospitality. In Jesus’ life this was done often in the context of table, food and drink, sharing. This is so central that the kingdom of God is frequently pictured in images of food and drink. Based on the Last Supper the principle worship for Christians is the Eucharist of bread and wine. If anything can be a creedal statement, based on how Jesus actually lived, it is that we believe in hospitality. In light of this, monasteries since they existed were the hotels in their cultural settings. To this day even hermits are serious about the importance of interrupting their prayers for the more important spiritual practice of entertaining guests. Hebrews 13:2 says that by welcoming strangers some have entertained angels without knowing it. Jesus says without doubt we are entertaining God. Of course, at the table is not the only place we can practice hospitality. Its essence is acceptance and understanding of the other. Do people feel welcome in our presence, not only at our table but also on the street, in the grocery store, at the gas station, over the back fence, wherever there is human contact? It is at these places that Jesus knocks at the door seeking to be invited in. (Revelation 3:20)
Matthew 10:40 in some translations say “receives me” and in others “welcomes me.” Both are correct. However, Matthew does not use the ordinary word for “receive.” He uses “decetai” which means welcome in the sense of hospitality. Later when speaking of receiving a reward (Matthew 10:42) he uses the more common word “lambano” which simply means “receive” in the sense of “take.” In other words when speaking of God or humans he wants to communicate a deeper relationship.
Knockings at the door!
Welcome invited divine.
So pass round the wine!