2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a; Rom 6:3-4, 8-11; Mt 10:37-42
An American tourist in Israel found himself needing to get rid of a large supply of garbage from his recent stay at an apartment. After a long search, he just couldn’t find any place to discard of it. So, he just went down one of the side streets to dump it there. Yet, he was stopped by an Israeli police officer, who said, “Hey you, what are you doing?” “I have to throw this away,” replied the tourist. “You can’t throw it away here. Look, follow me,” the policeman offered. The police officer led him to a beautiful garden with lots of grass, pretty flowers, and manicured hedges. “Here,” said the cop, “dump all the garbage you want.” The American shrugs, opens the large bags of garbage, and dumps them right on the flowers. “Thanks for giving me a place to dump this stuff. This is very nice of you. Is this Israeli hospitality?” asked the tourist. “No. This is the Iranian Embassy.”
On this thirteenth Sunday, the church exhorts us to welcome Christ in others. This is especially, through the messengers of God among us. She equally encourages us to be sensitive to the need of one another in order to make a positive difference in their lives.
In the first reading of this Sunday, the generosity of the Shunem couple towards Elisha brought them the blessing and joy of their life. There is much to be learnt from this reading. They were sensitive to the plight and immediate need of the man of God. Little did they know that this was the beginning of their blessing. Hence, through this act of generosity, hospitality and sensitivity, everything turned around for their good. Their desire of the ages was fulfilled.
On the other hand, Elisha was equally concerned and sensitive to the needs of this Shunem couple. So, rather than over burden them with more request or exploit their generosity, he prayed for them, and blessed them through his prophetic ministry. Thus, his presence was indeed a blessing to this house, rather than a burden. It Suffices to note that the name of Elisa means: “God saves.” This is exactly, what his action affirmed.
In today’s gospel, Christ spoke clearly to us on the need to welcome others for His sake. This is especially, those who bear the good news of salvation. Through generosity and hospitality, like the Shunem family in our first reading, we could attract God’s blessings to our home and family. Through these, our lives and fortunes could be transformed as well.
Next weekend Bishop Dominic from Lodwar will be celebrating Mass and preaching. So this is my last homily as your pastor here in St. Joseph Waterliet. In line with today’s theme for the liturgy, I thank you everyone of you for your hospitality and love. You have welcomed me and accepted me as your own. Peter asked Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” And Jesus answered, “everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”
In this parish, I have experienced the love of so many mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spiritual sons and daughters. I thank you all for your hospitality and love you have given me. If I have failed you in anyway, or didn’t meet your expectation as your pastor last seven and half years I am sorry.
Hospitality is very important virtue. The basis of all hospitality is that we all belong to God’s family, and that every person is our brother or sister. In the game of life, while we would prefer to be the quarterback — the hero — Jesus’ heart leans toward the water-boy or water-girl. Hence, providing a cup of water is a valid vocation.
It is important to ask ourselves these important questions. Do we still value the presence of others? Are we sensitive to their needs? Is our presence a source of blessing to the people we meet or that meet us? Does it really make any difference, or is it an added burden to their life? What good do I bring to the life of others? How do you extend hospitality to others? Your family? Your parents? Your friends? your neighbor? The sick? The lonely? The homeless? How do you receive hospitality in your life from others?