Paying Attention To Christ Our Guest
Readings: (1st: Gen 18, 1-10; Ps: 14, 2-5; 2nd: Col 1, 24-28; Gos: Lk 10, 38-42)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this sixteenth Sunday of ordinary time we welcome Christ our friend and guest. Today, the church reminds of the importance of hospitality. It is a Christian virtue and our duty towards others. She also, reminds us of the need to pay attention to Christ our Guest. Most importantly, we are advised not to pay more attention to material things than we do to spiritual things.
In the first reading, Abraham displayed his hospitality by receiving and welcoming strangers in his house. Fortunately for him, the strangers were messengers from God. Not only did he welcome them under his roof, he took extreme care of their material needs. He equally paid attention to their message and instruction. Hence, through his hospitality, he expressed his spirituality. For this, God decided to reward and bless his household.
However, we must be careful not to interpret this episode as strictly transactional. That is to say that: God promised Abraham a child because he was generous Him. Or, that God is only good to us because we are good to Him. In as much as God wants us to be hospitable, His love and blessings for us is unconditional and unmatchable.
Sure, God may decide to reward us for doing some good, but He is not gracious to us just because of what we do for him, or because of what we offer him. So, we have to be good and hospitable, because it is right and just, and not just because we are expecting a reward from God or anyone else.
In our second reading, Paul reminds us that, Christ is the hidden mystery that God has revealed to our world. Of course, this mystery is our guest and, “the hope of our glory.” In order words, He comes to us as one friend visits another. To receive and accept this mystery as Paul did, is the first step for establishing a strong and lasting relationship with God.
Today’s gospel presents us a little challenge. This challenge lies in Jesus’ response to Martha: “You worry about so many things, and yet, few are needed. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” There is a strong tendency to think that Christ was against taking care of the material needs of our guests.
However, it is simply a call to set our priorities right. Perhaps, Jesus felt that it was not enough for Martha to have welcomed him to her house. May be, she should have first paid payed more attention to His message before any other thing. A very important part of hospitality is paying attention to people. At times, what people need for from us are not just material things, but our attention.
Today, it is obvious that most Christians have misplaced their priorities in life. This is in spite of the fact that we labor much in the house of God. Hence the saying that: “One has time for the work of God, but no time for God the owner of the work.” Many of us are so distracted today with too many social and material activities (both in the church and in our homes), that we hardly have time for any spiritual reflection.
In some of our families, we pay attention to every other thing, but little or no attention to the spiritual growth of the members of our families. We have time for social activities, but little or no time for praying together or studying the word of God together.
We need to cement our relationship with Christ, by seating close to him as a family, by paying attention to what he has to say to us. Christ needs our attention, because he has something new to teach us every day. He wants to spend some quality time with us each day. So, we must not allow anything to prevent us from welcoming him, or to take away our attention from his presence. He wants us to live in his presence all the time. Hence, the psalmist reminds us today that: “The just will live in the presence of the Lord!”
Peace be with you all!