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Pastor's Letter 20200628 - 28 June 2020 The Sermon: Hospitality

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28 June 2020

13th Sunday-Ordinary Time

Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “The Sermon: Hospitality”


Scripture Note

 Today’s First Reading (2 Kings 4:8-16,) recounts the prophet Elisha’s welcoming reception while visiting the town of Shunem.  In appreciation, he calls upon the power of God to enable his host to bear a child.

Our Gospel offers Jesus’ instructions to the apostles on their priorities as His envoys to the world (Matthew 10:37-42.) Receiving someone’s envoy is to receive the person themselves.   However, if need be, they were to be ready to sacrifice relationships with their relatives and friends, and even their lives in His service.  In turn, they were urged to present profound dignity and offer the utmost sociability to everyone. 

 Following in Jesus’ Footsteps

 Jesus’ sermon today offers a stern warning to His disciples that we have to “take up our cross” to follow in The Way.  Our cross is not made of wood, but of our burdens—worries, problems, illnesses, conflicts with family, etc.  Perhaps we may have no “big” cross to bear, but we have a multiplicity of little ones.  It is said, though, that enough drops eventually fill a cup to overflowing.

Our cross may not be visible to others; it may not be “outward,” but an “inward” oppression, such as grief or depression.  Such crosses can be so heavy yet not able to be weighed on any scale.  Our most painful cross is the one in which we have no choice, i.e., living with a “difficult person.”  It is a great deal easier to choose a cross for oneself, than to accept one that comes in the “line of duty.”   Over and above all these “crosses,” which come to everyone, are those that come to us because of our discipleship for Christ.  The most common reasons for giving up the practice of the faith are not intellectual, but moral.  People know that to follow Christ may subvert their plans, which are often mercenary and vainglorious, and would mean saying “no” to themselves in certain matters. 

To follow Christ means a type of “dying” to self.  This process begins at Baptism, which can be compared to death. (Today’s Second Reading: Paul preaches that we are united to the death and resurrection of Christ in our Baptism [Romans 6:3-11.])   When we were baptized, we let go of the old life of sin, and became new creatures, able to live in the freedom of the children of God.  This is, of course, a lifelong process, upon which we can embark and persevere, with the grace of God.   But the purpose of this death is resurrection.  It is the death of the old, sin-ridden self, which results in the birth of a “new self,” modeled on Christ.  The person who selfishly grasps at personal fulfillment will only see it slip through their fingers, while one who sacrifices themselves for Jesus (and others) will find true fulfillment.

Christ did not choose the way of ease, or evasion.  Rather, He chose the way of self-sacrifice and suffering.  It wasn’t that He was “in love” with suffering, but that He chose The Way of love.  Love inevitably results in suffering, but then, love is the only thing that makes suffering bearable and fruitful (1 Corinthians 13:1-13.)

We are saved, not by Christ’s suffering, but by His love.  And it was through suffering that He attained to glory.  Therefore, it follows that if we suffer with Him on earth, we will be crowned with Him in heaven.  The road of suffering is narrow and difficult.  But we take great comfort knowing that Christ, the innocent and sinless One, has gone down this road before us, to the end.  Since He traveled upon it, it is not the same.  A bright light illuminates The Way for us, ending not a Calvary, but at Easter.    


 One of the nicest things in life is to meet an open, friendly, warm and hospitable person.  Hospitality is a hallmark of a true follower of Christ, Who urges us to be open, and accepting to everyone, as He was.  These days, unfortunately, are much different that in days gone by, when no one locked their doors. In fact, these days are times of locks, bolts, chains, peep holes, alarm systems, dogs….  Yet there is more need for hospitality and friendliness now than ever before!  With all our modern conveniences, technology and scientific advancements, it seems there has never been a period of history with more loneliness, strangers, aliens and displaced people.   

Hospitality to a friend, is “no big deal.”  In such an instance there is no great risk involved and little likelihood any of our friends would not return the favor.  But hospitality to a stranger can be fraught with peril.  We don’t “owe” anything to a stranger, and weighing the risks is of paramount concern.

Nonetheless, we are called by Christ to welcome strangers, to accept them as they are—thereby enabling them to shed their "strangeness" and become members of our community.  (People of good conscience have responded to those less fortunate in modern times by providing outreach programs that do not expose them to undue threat.  Opening our Churches, meeting halls, city missions and event centers; the outreach efforts of civic organizations, as well as groups ministering to the needy, (Handicap Foundations, Boquete's Hogar Triskar, God's Eyes, etc.) also serve to allay dangers to any individual, and still offer hospitality and services to those in need.)   Responding to Christ’s call to “reach out” offers enormous rewards.  Even a trivial act of kindness, like offering a bottle of water does not go unrewarded.  Earthly rewards include the growth of understanding, friendliness, cooperation, and positive relationships that develop among people in different stations of life—the very things for which our society is in desperate need.

Our charitable actions can have a “ripple effect” in our world—a “spring time” to banish a “winter” of mistrust, hostility and fear.  For followers of Christ, hospitality is not an “optional extra.”  It is at the very heart of the Gospel.  And the ultimate motivation is clear:  To welcome a stranger is to welcome Christ Himself.  It is not so much about “open doors” as “open hearts.”  Yes, there are risks in having an open heart—a person may experience disappointment, even “hurt.”  But every time we open our hearts we begin"to live”—whereas, when we close our hearts we begin to die….

A Cup of Cold Water

Offering someone a drink of water normally is a small gesture, but depending on circumstances, it can be very important.  Living in the desert, (as I now do, in Tucson,) It is quite clear that having water can mean the difference between life and death.  (With temperatures in excess of 100-degrees, many days, and humidity levels below 20%, much of the year, dehydration is a constant threat.)  This shows that a deed doesn’t have to be “big” to have major importance.  The spirit in which a deed is done, the person to whom it is offered and the circumstances can magnify its significance.  Many times, it’s not “how much” we do, but how much love we put into the act. 

Few of us are given opportunities to perform great deeds.  But the chance to offer a “cup of water,” or other simple act of charity, may come our way several times in the course of a given day.  Such deeds may not mean much, taken by themselves, but the quality of one’s actions can be measured in terms of the “warmth” in which they are offered, and the peace they bring to the recipient. 

Here is an anonymous poem I find particularly apropos

“The Circle Around My Life”

 Much of our lives is spent in keeping people out.

We have private houses, private clubs, and so on.

Of course, there are times when we need to be alone.

Yet there is a sense, in which our size as human beings, can be measured by the circles we draw to take other people into our livs.

A strong person isn’t afraid of people who are different: A wise person welcomes them.

However, by shutting out other people we deny ourselves the riches of other people’s experiences--

In so doing, we starve our minds, and harden our hearts.

In the beginning, God gave the earth its shape:  He made it round...He included everybody.

So should we…. 

May God Richly Bless You!


Be Still and Know.docx

Be Still and Know.mp3

Here is a live stream of Fr. Michael, with today's Readings https://www.facebook.com/michael.schamp.9/videos/3391937750830708/?d=n



Edited by Father Michael
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