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 Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
On this sixteenth Sunday of ordinary time, we welcome Christ, our friend, and guest. Today, the church reminds us 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 to spiritual things.
In the first reading, Abraham displayed his hospitality by receiving and welcoming strangers into his house. Fortunately for him, the strangers were messengers from God. Not only did he welcome them under his roof, but he also 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 to 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 are 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, not just because we expect 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. As Paul did, receiving and accepting this mystery is the first step toward establishing a solid and lasting relationship with God.
Today’s gospel presents us with a bit of 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. Maybe, she should have first paid more attention to His message before any other thing. An essential part of hospitality is paying attention to people. At times, what people need 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 despite 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 by too many social and material activities that we hardly have time for any spiritual reflection.
In some of our families, we pay attention to every mundane issue and need. However, we pay 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 sitting close to him as a family, and 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 taking 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!