Ordinary Time 16, Year C-2010

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
Come ... For I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt. 25:34-35)

The simple nomadic life of Abraham and Sarah, needless to say, has given way to the complex settled life of today’s society. One can no longer so spontaneously and warmly welcome strangers. When one looks up and sees a Jesús, María or José standing nearby or far, chances are what comes to mind is not Heb. 13:2 that reads, “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” Rather, one familiar with hearsays and media reports conjures up drug-trafficking, decapitations and other horrendous crimes attributed to the so-called “illegal” immigrants (cf. [1]).

But, of course, it is not that we do not like to welcome divinity. We would love, for sure, to be like disciples Martha and Mary and have Jesus as our very special guest. The trouble, though, is that long-standing and sweeping stereotypes and generalizations as well as self-fulfilling perceptions scare us, to say the least, and get on the way of our being more reasonable. And we end up choosing not to take any chance at all. Thus obsessed with and absorbed in self-preservation or self-protection, we risk missing the opportunity to welcome Jesus in those who are suffering now, those who are “filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,” so that it may be built up more fully and more comprehensively (cf. a commentary on the psalms by St. Augustine, which is the non-biblical reading in the Office of Readings for May 12, memorial of St. Nereus and St. Achilleus, Liturgy of the Hours). Counsels St. Ambrose in an exposition of Ps. 118 (cf. the non-biblical reading in the Office of Readings for Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Liturgy of the Hours):

Hear his knock, listen to him asking to enter:
Open to me, my sister, my betrothed, my dove, my perfect one,
for my head is covered with dew, and my hair with the
moisture of the night.
When does God the Word most often knock at your door
–When his head is covered with the dew of night.
He visits in love those in trouble and temptation,
to save them from being overwhelmed by their trials.
His head is covered with dew or moisture when those
who are his body are in distress. That is the time when
you must keep watch so that when the bridegroom comes he
may not find himself shut out, and take his departure.

And if we open the door to Jesus immediately when he comes and knocks (which could really be at any time of day or night), he—never outdone in hospitality and generosity—will gird himself, have us recline at table, and proceed to wait on us, so that we ourselves may be nourished with his word and his body and blood (cf. Lk. 12:36-38; see also St. Augustine’s sermon that is the non-biblical reading in the Office of Readings for July 29, the memorial of St. Martha, Liturgy of the Hours).