This is the sixth installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman. Today’s topic will cover A Hospitable Woman.
Hospitality really isn’t having folks over for dinner or inviting ladies to tea (although I love to do this); it isn’t making sure our homes are in decent enough order to welcome drop-ins (although this is a good idea). It is much more radical. Much more uncomfortable. Much more beautiful.
The ancient Hebrews were commanded thusly:
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:34).”
And our New Testament Greek word for hospitality is a combination of two:
Phileo ~ brotherly love
Xenos ~ stranger
So hospitality is actually loving strangers like family.
Even our English translation of hospitality (from whence our word hospital hails) is friendly, generous reception of guests, visitors, or strangers.
Look at these verses again, remembering strangers.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2).
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (I Peter 4:9).
And having a reputation for good works … has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work (I Timothy 5:10).
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14).
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:20).
Strangers like that new family or smelly man at church (Go ahead and invite them for coffee in the parish hall; maybe make a friend). Strangers like that rude cashier or snobby neighbor (Go ahead and smile; it might make them smile, too). Strangers like the ones mentioned for parish prayers (Go ahead and drop off a muffin and a note to the hospital room; it means so much).
Of course we should be sharing generously with our friends, and let’s think of opening the warmth of our homes (or at least friendly faces) to strangers as well. Remember Martha? We think of her negatively because of Jesus’ fussing over her fussing (although I do not picture Him being rude to her, but like my husband smiling at me and saying, “Hey Hon, leave it alone; come sit with us!”). The Scriptures tell us that “Jesus entered a village and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house (Luke 10:38).” It starts with welcoming people.
Hospitality is radical. Hospitality is uncomfortable. Hospitality is beautiful. Hospitality can change the world, one welcoming at a time.
Dear Martha, pray for us.
Allison is a 40-something mother of seven, living in Alaska, accepted into the Church (together with her husband, thank God) in 2004. She spends her days homeschooling and packaging meat that her menfolk hunt and bring home. She cannot garden to save her life but picks wild blueberries like a champ. She has been published in an edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul and keeps a blog at www.northerncffamily.blogspot.com, writing about living out the Faith with children with cystic fibrosis.