These times challenge our ways of being hospitable. To say hospitality among the people of our Bible was a big deal is an understatement. We flee today from their notions. Instead, we are reminded in a hundred ways: ‘Strangers are dangerous.’ ‘Watch out crime is everywhere.’ ‘Trust no one.’ We get the idea that people who were hospitable to ‘the alien’ and strangers of 2000 years ago must have hardly taken any risk in being so because there were almost no dangerous people and situations then. That’s mostly wrong. Where did Jesus get the story of the good Samaritan and the man left for dead by the robbers? Thin air? Traveling was dangerous then too. Laws in the first 5 books of the Bible and examples of it elsewhere are strong on hospitality to other people. One reason was, everyone had a history wherein they were treated well by hospitable people, and because God loves the stranger and the needy.
If we are going to be careful and not do certain things which seem to make us more vulnerable to getting hurt, we still cannot neglect hospitality if we are being the Christian people we claim to be. Many of us are trying to make the best of what we can (creativity helps) and host whatever we can under our present pandemic situation, if it’s something we don’t cancel or find is put off. Thus we use our techno resources more or in new ways. Being a person of hospitality, like love, begins at home. If we only come physically near the people with whom we live, we also could think of worthy causes that would benefit from our gifts of help not needing our physical presence.
Here’s one biggie to consider: there is a long standing American Christian tradition which emphasizes personal piety and ‘being saved’ and considers all matters bigger than one’s own private and family life to be all politics or social justice or ‘that peace and justice stuff;’ and those concepts are often viewed with disdain; btw, working towards anti-abortion laws also falls under politics, social justice and peace. You know and I know our Lord Jesus is concerned about outer actions AND more so where it’s coming from: the inside of our hearts and minds, attitudes etc. Prejudice, bigotry and racism block christian hospitality, these easily isolate our hospitality to a few, and with Jesus that just won’t do! If we have hostility and have little or nothing hospitable towards large groups of ‘those people’ (skin color, ethnicity, thinking, religion), then I dare say we risk being in trouble with God. Jesus is wondering: anybody really listening to all of my Gospel? While we are not so close physically to those we’d like to be, consider letting Christ work on our souls. A little bit of hospitality can equal a lot of love. Jesus says in Luke 6:32 : ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Sinners love those who love them.” Apparently we have to do better. Hospitality starts in our hearts.
Many thanks to you for your hospitality,