First Reading: Acts 16:11-15
Setting sail therefore from Tro'as, we made a direct voyage to Sam'othrace, and the following day to Ne-ap'olis, and from there to Philip'pi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedo'nia, and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days; and on the sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyati'ra, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 149:1-6, 9
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful! Let Israel be glad in his Maker, let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory. Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. 6Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute on them the judgment written! This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the LORD!
Gospel: John 15:26--16:4
But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. "I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. "I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
"If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay."
It was a dangerous time to be a Christian. To adopt the faith was to risk death. To host known Christians as guests exposed Lydia and her family to great danger. Yet Lydia’s first act as a new believer is to urge Saint Paul and the others to come stay with her at her home. This is wild, reckless hospitality, and once upon a time, it was the hallmark of Christian faith. Creating a safe, welcoming space for those who were persecuted was a main way of serving each other. It was how Saint Paul and other missionaries were able to share the Good News so quickly in so many places. Radical hospitality is how knowledge of The Way spread through the land.
Today, we can find ourselves caught in the trap of thinking of hospitality as a luxury. When we have the space and the time, it’s great to host, but when we’re busy or our lives are full, it’s optional at best. People who extend hospitality to others must have less hectic lives, or nicer furniture, or extra guest bedrooms, or excellent from-scratch muffins. Blogs and social media can add to our feelings of inadequacy. Seeing how some gifted hostesses create wonderful dinner parties or make beautiful decorations can trap us into thinking that we aren’t up to the challenge of hosting.
Christianity is legal in many parts of the world, but it is still an act of radical hospitality to create a safe space for someone else. We probably aren’t going to be killed for bringing people in, but the very act of hospitality makes us vulnerable. We are sharing ourselves with others for the love of Jesus. We might think we can’t handle this task, but we can. We are made to share Jesus with others through hospitality, because the Holy Spirit equips us for it. Hospitality doesn’t require a college degree in event planning and guest relations or a particular talent for perfectly frosting cakes. It only requires a willing heart and an open space- even a small one will do.
So the next time an opportunity presents itself, try answering the call to hospitality. Bring out some coffee and cookies or carrot sticks and hummus and invite someone in. Let’s make hospitality synonymous with Christianity again. It doesn’t matter what we serve. The very act of serving anything at all is a way we can all serve Jesus . . . even if the muffins are from a box.
How can you practice radical hospitality this week?
Abbey Dupuy is a freelance writer and homeschooling mama to two-year-old twins, a first grader and a new baby. You can find out more about her here.