2nd Kings 4:8-11, 14-16, 2, Romans 6:3-4, 8-11, Matthew 10:37-42
The Power of Showing Hospitality.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines hospitality as, “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests or hospitable treatment. Showing hospitality is very important to our Christian lives.
Hospitality is essential to the Christian life. Showing hospitality has its root in God and it is found in the bible as one of the things that indicate that you are a child of God.
The first reading and the gospel of today captured the necessity and efficacy of helping, protecting and treating others well.
The major message of today’s readings is that whenever we are presented with an opportunity to help and an opportunity to save others it is advisable to do it. It should not be out of selfishness but because of what the person is a “child of God”. We have to know that whatever we do for God is never a waste of effort.
During the time of great hunger and famine in the history of America, a woman Clarey saw a little child whose family was already wiped out due to the hunger that ravaged the land.
The little child seems to be the only survivor of this disaster. The little boy lost the entire family due to extreme hunger and famine that ravaged the land.
He looked so malnourished, hungry, stagnated and starved. When Clarey saw this child, She picked her up, took her home and fed him. He was integrated as part of the family and taken care of.
After a few years, a tragic incident happened to Clarey. Her only two sons died in an accident. There was no one to care for the woman who had become advanced in age. Everything she had was taken away from her within a twinkle of an eye. At last, it was the little child that she picked up from a forgotten home that took care of her and took her to his home.
The boy, she would have abandoned later became the only hope she had at last. Showing hospitality to anyone has its way of coming back to us. It may not be now, but it will and it may still be when we least expect it.
In Matthew 25:40-45, Jesus says “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The Woman of Shunem as Exemplar.
The first reading today presented us with the encounter between Elisha and the woman of Shunem. It also shows how the woman extended a helping hand to the prophet. There are a few things we would like to point out about this woman. This will effectively guide us in our earthly ministry and show hospitality to people.
1. The woman of Shunem does not know who Elisha is. She tells her husband “ ‘Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God. Let us build him a small room on the roof, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there”.
So, what really causes the woman to show hospitality to Elisha is that she always sees him pass along their residence.
This inspires her to press on him and offer him some food to eat. She does this constantly whenever Elisha is passing.
The point is that she was presented with an opportunity to help and she did not say no to it. Just like Abraham in Genesis 18.
God presented her an opportunity to help His prophet and she did not recline to it. Sometimes the things we do for the church or Her priests also come back to us in a way we may not even expect.
Hence, when God puts most of these opportunities to us, we decline them because we read a misleading post somewhere about showing hospitality to God’s servants. Then, when a problem comes, we still remember the priest we have forsaken all these while and even pester him to solve our problems. Any charity we commit in God’s vineyard is never in vain.
Like in the first reading, opportunities to show hospitality are always presented to us every day. How have we treated the people we meet along the way? How do we treat the people living around us and those we are in positions to help?
What do we do with these opportunities that are given to us every day? When was the last time we encouraged our priests or people working in God’s vineyard, to at least offer prayers for them? How many people have come to us for help but we detest them because we see them as a disturbance?
Sometimes, one may be in need, then to solve that need, God presents to him or her an opportunity to help a needy person. How he or she treats this opportunity can make or mar him/her.
2. Secondly, do you discover that the woman of Shunem is a woman of high rank? Though the woman was high in rank she did not wait for Elisha to begin to request for help.
She knows she has what it takes to help, and she acts in accordance.
This woman teaches us that we must not wait for people to approach us to help. That hospitality that comes from the heart is accompanied by a lot of blessings.
3. Thirdly, despite her rank, She did not wait to give Elisha millions. What she offered him was only food and shelter and yet got a great reward.
This virtuous woman also teaches us that despite the little we might think we have, let us always offer helping hands to those we can.
4. When you critically evaluate her intention, you will discover that She did not act out of selfishness. She did not do the hospitality because she is barren. She did not do it also that God through it will bless her. The woman did what she did willingly. Hence, God still rewarded her.
Therefore, we must not have anything in mind before we give or do something for anyone. God already knows our minds. He also knows how to reward us.
5. Then fifthly, the woman teaches us what should be our motivation for showing hospitality or helping people. She said to her husband, ‘Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God. Let us build him a small walled room, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there.
Through her concern and her actions, she also promoted the preaching of the Word. She did what she did because of God. This should be our ultimate motivation.
Do it for God.
In the gospel of today, Jesus says “No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me. No one who prefers a son or daughter to me is worthy of me”.
This indicates that whatever we do, the first motivation should be “God”. What we do for God must not revolve around those we love but beyond our relatives and loved ones.
Here, Jesus uses the family bond to drive home his point and the type of attitude He wants from His disciples.
It means that If we have to love Him, the love we have for Him must go beyond the family bond. Then, if we want to follow Him, it must exceed the bond we find in different families.
Whenever we want to do anything because of God it must go beyond our family members and those we love.
When the woman of Shunem helped Elisha, she didn’t know where Elisha came from. She did not consider whether they are related by blood or not. The woman did it because she saw he is a holy man of God.
When Abraham fed the strangers in Genesis 18, he did not know who they were and never considered if there were any family ties.
The secret is “all for God”.1 Peter 4:8-9 advises all to do this from the heart and without grumbling.
The love we show to one another can invite compassion and forgiveness upon us. The scripture says in 1 Peter 5:8, that sincere love covers a multitude of sins.
He says “ Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling”. Showing hospitality to anyone has a very strong spiritual impact and importance.
Challenges cannot stop You.
Let nothing stop you from doing good. The woman of Shunem has no child and did not consider who is going to take the service of providing for Elisha. She took it all by herself.
She did not grumble against God nor refuse to help His prophet because she was barren. Jesus says “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me”.
So, despite the oppositions and challenges, the love we have for Jesus should be our constant motivation.
Do not stop loving God or working for Him because you think He has forgotten you, that thing you are doing could be the avenue to the answer to your prayers one day.
In the introduction story, Mrs Clarey never knew that the little boy she decided to save would be her backbone at last. Nobody knows tomorrow.
There is Always A Reward.
The single good thing one does can be an answer to a particular problem. Sometimes we may not know the good things we can invite into our lives when we extend a helping hand to the other person.
When Abraham fed the strangers in Genesis 18, He did not know he was going to end up feeding the angels of God. He did not expect that a promise of a child would come from such hospitality.
When the disciples on the road to Emmaus decided to show hospitality to Jesus, they never knew they would end up encountering the risen Jesus.
When the woman of today fed Elisha, She never knew she would end up with a promise of a child.
In the gospel of today, Jesus says “Anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet, because he is a prophet, will have a prophet’s reward, and anyone who welcomes an upright person because he is upright will have the reward of an upright person.
Jesus also reveals that there is always a reward for any hospitality that we truly and sincerely show to anyone. Jesus says in today’s gospel “If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward.’
In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ We might even end up feeding God and not even the person we think we are showing hospitality to.
2. St. Martin of Tours is famous for sharing his cloak with a man who was begging in the cold.
He was a soldier in the Roman army and one day, during a severe winter, he met a poor man who was begging near the gate to the city. The man was almost naked and was trembling with cold.
Martin felt called to help the man but had nothing with him. He drew his sword and cut his army cloak in two—wrapping himself in what was left and giving the beggar the other half.
That night, Martin had a dream in which he saw Jesus himself dressed in half of his cloak that he had cut. “Martin has covered me with his garment,” he heard Jesus say.
This became a turning point in the life of the saint. We may not know what we truly invite into our lives when we do good to others. No goodness goes unrewarded.
Values that Can Help Us Live A Life of Generosity and Show Hospitality.
Today, many people find it so hard to be generous, even to give as little. Many people find it so burdensome to show hospitality to others. Showing hospitality to others seems to be a herculean task for them.
We always want what people give us but we do not even give anything. Many Christians today are very okay to be only receivers.
The truth is that we are yet to understand the power of charity. This is the reason we always ask and pray to God for our needs but when the needs are met, we also forget to go for thanksgiving.
In fact, Jesus trained His disciples to be givers and not receivers only. During the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus and his apostles have only five loaves and two fishes, yet they used that in feeding them. He wants us to learn how to be able to give despite how little.
A little act of charity given from a pure heart, can move mountains. Therefore, if we are finding it very difficult to learn how to extend a helping hand, these values can help us. They are:
1. Learn to be motivated always by the Love for God: In the gospel, Jesus says “Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers a son or daughter to me is not worthy of me”.
Therefore, Jesus wants us to always put God first in everything that we do. When God or the love of Jesus is truly the motivating factor behind the good things that we do or the charity that we do, we shall observe that we will never get tired of them.
We shall also discover that we shall always have the hunger to do them. When we are motivated by the love of God, we shall always be willing to show hospitality to anyone even if the person is not in any way related to us and even if we know that we are not going to grant anything in return.
Let the love of God surpass whatever love we have for anyone.
2. Be willing to Carry Your Cross: The reason many people do not show hospitality is due to the challenges that some are facing. Some think that God does not listen to them, and because of this, they do not find any joy when it comes to God.
They even see whatever we do in the church as fake and imaginary. They do not truly believe in that, that is why when you tell them about the need to be a giver, they laugh at you. Some have lost trust in God.
These people are those who think that there is nothing like suffering or a cross in Christianity. They think that Christianity is only about glory and breakthrough.
This is the reason Jesus reminds us in the gospel that carrying our cross forms part of following Him. He says “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.”
Therefore, we have to be willing to carry our crosses. We have to be willing to save lives even in the most challenging situations.
The woman of Shunem is barren, yet she does not stop doing good because God may seem to keep quiet on her prayers for a child. She does not give up on God. Hence, God rewards her in a big way.
3. When We have the “other people” mentality; For us to know the need to be hospitable, we must possess the “other people” mentality.
This is a call to be selfless and concerned about the needs of others. Jesus says in the gospel, that Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. If the woman of Shunem is only interested in herself, she would not have time for Elisha.
She would be so interested in how to manage their food so that it would be enough for them. We become so selfish when we only concentrate on ourselves and this is the reason many of us are hand-tied.
This is also the reason many families today are divided. We create more problems when we want only ourselves.
4. When we understand that there is something beyond our charity or simple hospitality:
Jesus says in the gospel “Anyone who welcomes you welcomed me, and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me”.
In this statement, hospitality was shown to the disciple, but what Jesus is saying here is that hospitality is not just to the disciple but to Him.
When we do an act of charity, always know that there is something more beyond your simple act of Charity. It means that You are actually showing hospitality to Jesus.
Therefore, to welcome his disciples is to welcome Jesus and will receive their reward as we have seen in the First reading when the woman of Shunem welcomed the prophet Elisha in her home.
1. Showing hospitality is a kind gesture that gladdens the heart of God. We must not have enough before we give. We can offer anything we can. The woman of Shunem offered only food and a small room. Abraham offered only food, and St. Martin of Tours offered just a cloak yet they were rewarded.
2. The Key figures today used what they have to promote the well-being of others. This is a call on all of us to use whatever we have, despite how little. It can be our gifts and talents to promote the evangelization of the gospel.
Anyone who takes God seriously and gets involved with God’s work will always try his best according to the abilities and the opportunities God has given to us, without excuses. Just as the woman of Shunem.
3. The woman of Shunem demonstrated her concern for God’s work. She saw Elisha was a man of God, and she tried more for Him. But today when the things of God come that need our support, we begin to grumble and give excuses on why we would not support.
Jesus’ statement in the gospel encourages all to do all we can in the promotion of the gospel. Let us not rest on our laurels that we have nothing to offer. There is always something to offer to God.
4. What I love so much about this woman is the respect she had for her husband despite her rank. What she did for Elisha, she did, with respect for her husband’s authority and leadership.
She politely involved him in the matter and appears to have left the final decision up to him. This beautifully illustrates how godly wives must be wise and submissive, showing respect for their husband’s position of leadership as did this Shunammite woman. She exhibits the influence, aid, and support a godly wife can have on her husband.
5. Jesus says in the gospel, “If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward”. What Jesus says here is just a cup of water.
For Jesus, a simple act of charity is enough. Even that simple act of charity is rewarding. That simple act of showing hospitality to others is also highly rewarding. Therefore, it is better to give despite how little than not to give.
It is better to show hospitality to others than not to. God does not forget that little effort that we are making.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people like Abraham have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
May God help us to love and help one another. May He also never abandon you Amen. Remain Blessed.