Christian Hospitality — Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

How much of our lives, dear brothers and sisters, are focused on ourselves and how much on other people?  Do I find myself at the centre of everything I do?  Or do I allow another to have a voice, an impact on myself?

Today’s Gospel brings us two people, Martha and Mary of Bethany: both are providing hospitality to the Lord.  And this is a good thing—we welcome in those who are tired and offer them rest, food and drink, and in this way we honour the person in front of us and, therefore, we honour God.

But there was a difference between the hospitality offered by Martha and that of Mary.  We need people like Martha—the practical, the doer, the one who gets all fed—but it is easy to fall into the trap that what we do is more important than direct and personal communication.  Feeding a person is important—vital in fact, and is one criterion on which we shall be judged—but this must not be at the sacrifice of personal contact, personal dignity.

And we look at this and we convince ourselves, “I’m not like that.”  But when I see a man begging on the street do I judge him, buy him a sandwich because I do not trust him with the money, then walk away feeling self-righteous?  Perhaps I might even take a selfie doing it so I can show others how “holy” I am?  Do I rejoice when the Lord gives me a chance to minister to someone or do I complain at the work I have to do?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be like both Martha and Mary.  We must serve with all our ability as well as honour the person before us because how you treat them is how you will be judged by the Lord.  If we are dismissive of them in some way the Lord will be dismissive of us, if we honour them we honour the Lord, and he will honour us in return.  Make room for the other so our hospitality is less about us and more about the dignity of the other.

That we may offer true hospitality and thereby receive Christ in our hearts and come to the knowledge of the Father through him in the Holy Spirit, Amen.