The Reading: Luke 14:12-14
“But when you give a feast, invite …” (v.13) RSV
If forgiveness (see last week) is one of the hallmarks of good neighbourliness, hospitality is the other. How do we show people the love of God? We welcome them into our homes and (probably) feed them. God welcomes us into his household and he spreads before us a heavenly banquet.
Many people are hospitable and give feasts, but that is not necessarily reflective of God’s hospitality. For instance, Dives (the rich man) gave feasts every day (Luke 16:19), and in today’s reading Jesus was dining “at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees” (Luke 14:1). However, Jesus castigated him for inviting only his friends and honoured guests (v.12).
God’s hospitality is given to the unloved and the unlovely, to the poor and outcast (v.13). Jesus said elsewhere: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
Now this kind of hospitality or outreach may not seem very attractive. We tend to feel the Church needs the rich and the talented, so that we become strong and effective in reaching out. But God has always chosen the despised in this world. As Paul wrote, “Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth, but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).
Hospitality is sharing what we have with others, it may be board and lodging, a cup of coffee, time to chat, or a word of guidance. But one way or another it takes the other person seriously and pours out loving kindness in their direction. We can all do it; we are all called to do it. We are not meant to keep God’s love for those who already have it; it is “for its non-members” (Archbishop Temple).
Give me a generous heart, O Lord, and a care for the lost and lonely in this world. Amen.
1 Who was converted and hospitable?
2 Who else was converted and hospitable?