As I write this article for the bulletin people are preparing for our garage sale. Earlier in the week I walked down to see what the donations looked like and I was amazed at everything that was there. Thanks to everyone who made donations. I heard a priest once say that by cleaning out a room you can make room for God. Of course that means that you are not filling it up with other stuff.
In this week’s bulletin you will find a flyer for our Summer Gatherings, August 5, 6, & 7. We are following up on last year’s presentation on the Second Vatican Council. Last year Fr. Healy gave us an excellent overview of how the Second Vatican Council came about and the wisdom that came from that Council. This year Fr. Matt will take a look with us at the document on the Liturgy and how it has formed our liturgical celebrations since the Council. I hope you will make plans to attend our Summer Gatherings this year.
One trait our parish is noted for is hospitality. In today’s first reading we see Abraham and Sarah practicing hospitality with three strangers. The three men don’t even have time to ask for hospitality before Abraham is running from his tent and asking them to stay, have a little food, and refresh themselves. It turns out that “a little food” is a feast. Abraham prepares a tender choice steer. In those days people rarely ate meat. When they did it was probably a lamb or a goat. Steers were saved for the most important people on the most important occasions. The message is clear: Offering hospitality is one of the most important things a follower of God can do.
In today’s Gospel we see Martha offering hospitality to Jesus. While she is busy preparing the food Mary is offering a different sort of hospitality. She is sitting at Jesus feet, listening to what he says and teaches. That is the posture of a disciple.
This past week our Pastoral Council and Staff got together for a retreat. We were reflecting on an earlier section in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus went to his hometown of Nazareth, went into the synagogue and stood up to do the reading. He reads a passage from the prophet Isaiah. This passage is Jesus mission statement. It tells who Jesus is and what he is about. When he finishes reading he says to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I asked everyone there how is Jesus mission fulfilled. One of their responses was that it was fulfilled when people heard the message and bought into it. They went on to say our own parish mission statement is fulfilled when people hear it and buy into it.
Hospitality requires us to be open to others. When we are open we will find ourselves being changed. In his reflection in Celebration Fr. Karban tells a story illustrating this point.
Years ago, one of my scripture students mentioned she was planning to move away from her home to be close to her son, a dean at a well-known university. He had invited her to be his secretary, a somewhat surprising invitation since she was close to 80 years old.
“Aren’t you a little worried, Grace,” I asked, “about taking on something you’ve never done before and having to deal with all those new people?”
I was humbled by her response. “Things like this don’t bother me,” she said. “Every time I meet a new person I ask, “Is this the person God has put in my life to help me better understand myself?”
Hospitality will help us better understand ourselves. Try it.