Ode to Feminine Genius ~ A Hospitable Woman

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This is the sixth installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic WomanToday’s topic will cover A Hospitable Woman.

Hospitable Woman

martha2Hospitality 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).

martha1Of 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.

Even strangers.

Hospitality is radical. Hospitality is uncomfortable. Hospitality is beautiful. Hospitality can change the world, one welcoming at a time.

Dear Martha, pray for us.



4 Replies to “Ode to Feminine Genius ~ A Hospitable Woman”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I have just one discussion for you all…how do we put this into practice in our society? I know in my life there have been times where I saw someone who was probably in need of hospitality but I was too afraid for my safety or that of my young children with me. I am aware of our vulnerability. Have any of you felt that way? How did you work through it?

  2. Yes! That’s why I wrote that sometimes just a smile (instead of averting my eyes) or an invite to after-church coffee(instead of in my house with kids) is what works for safety. I like to meet newly-met moms and kids at parks, too. My personal “ack” is panhandlers in my town. I never keep cash and don’t know how to practically help. A friend keeps one dollar bills and is able to pass out a few, which seems wonderful.

  3. Our priest had a great point about helping the homeless – which isn’t entirely the point of this post, I recognize that…he said that our obligation is to help {or be hospitable, however that translates for each of us}, not to decide whether they will use the money for drugs, alcohol, etc.

    Our family has taken up the practice of putting together care packages for the homeless. We actually just did this last week and the kids had an absolute BLAST being able to let the homeless know we had a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie included and even saying “God bless you!” as we drove away.

    I know for me, I fight a LOT of selfish tendencies, so any opportunity I have to do something with or in front of my children that shows them the importance of true hospitality – I have to take it. I have to get outside of my comfort zone.

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