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Radical Hospitality of the Heart

First Reading: 2 Samuel 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27

David returned from his defeat of the Amalekites
and spent two days in Ziklag.
On the third day a man came from Saul’s camp,
with his clothes torn and dirt on his head.
Going to David, he fell to the ground in homage.
David asked him, “Where do you come from?”
He replied, “I have escaped from the camp of the children of Israel.”
“Tell me what happened,” David bade him.
He answered that many of the soldiers had fled the battle
and that many of them had fallen and were dead,
among them Saul and his son Jonathan.

David seized his garments and rent them,
and all the men who were with him did likewise.
They mourned and wept and fasted until evening
for Saul and his son Jonathan,
and for the soldiers of the LORD of the clans of Israel,
because they had fallen by the sword.

“Alas! the glory of Israel, Saul,
slain upon your heights;
how can the warriors have fallen!

“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and cherished,
separated neither in life nor in death,
swifter than eagles, stronger than lions!
Women of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and in finery,
who decked your attire with ornaments of gold.

“How can the warriors have fallen–
in the thick of the battle,
slain upon your heights!

“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother!
most dear have you been to me;
more precious have I held love for you than love for women.

“How can the warriors have fallen,
the weapons of war have perished!”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80:2-3, 5-7

R. (4b) Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
O guide of the flock of Joseph!
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
O LORD of hosts, how long will you burn with anger
while your people pray?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in ample measure.
You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.

Gospel: Mark 3:20-21

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

NAB

jan 23

How do you interpret today’s Gospel? It feels so unfinished and out of context, I was very confused at first. So after re-reading it for the fifth time, I visualized myself in this situation, took what I understood from it and got this . . .

Jesus, our Lord is generous. Generous with His time, generous with His presence, generous with His attention and generous in spirit.

I like my space. I am a people person, so being close to people is my preference, but even I need space and time after awhile and especially just silence. I have become more claustrophobic as time has gone on, and my tolerance threshold for loud noises, busy and crowded spaces has definitely lessoned since college days. So I put myself in Jesus’s shoes and think . . . If I were the son of God and a very important person, I would absolutely be demanding my time and space and screaming at the people about how selfish they are that they cannot even let me eat in peace. I would be furious, annoyed and steaming . . . not to mention hungry. But Jesus is silent, lets it be, receives it, and does not react, to the point that His relatives consider him “crazy.”

The Lord was so radically hospitable in spirit and heart that it broke the social norms or just even common sense! By definition hospitality is the act of being “friendly towards guests and strangers,” but Jesus goes beyond that. A friendly hospitable response would be to kindly and respectfully turn the guests away to re-convene at a different time and place.

That is not what Jesus does. He digs deeper and is radically hospitable. He completely and utterly puts His desires, wants, and needs (however justifiable) on the back burner. He sees the need of the people to be with Him . . . close to Him . . . and He just lets that be. However untimely, inappropriate, rude, or disgraceful their actions were, He loves them, sees through their short-comings and cuts to the truth of their actions.

I feel like I too am very rude to our Lord. I fit Him in my day when it’s convenient, timely and makes sense, but what if I was like this crowd and had no other desire in the world than to spend my day as close to the Lord as possible, no matter how socially awkward or inappropriate to the world it is? I am humbled by the Lord’s generosity with me. He meets me where I am, even if where I am is an ignorant and selfish state of mind. Even if I am too far from him, He still reaches out his hand and when I am too close He lovingly lets me in.

The most important thing in all this is that He is constant. No matter what craziness is happening around. He is always there.

Let us strive to be more radical in our hospitality with our Lord and with those around us, imitating our Lord in His generosity.

photo credit

Cassie Kent is a wife, mom to two kiddos and one on the way, loves to get a little crafty and loves celebrating the beauty of creativity. You can find out more about her here.

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