How welcoming am I?

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June 28, 2020 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062820.cfm)

Homily

When I was younger, I used to play, eat and even sleep at my playmates’ house or them in our house. I grew up in this environment being assured that I was welcomed. I also witnessed how the adults at that time would do the same where they also felt welcomed. Indeed, that culture made me realize how a community becomes more compassionate and generous as every house and every person welcomes others.

This brings me to what our readings this Sunday is reminding us, that is, the call of hospitality or the invitation to be welcoming.

Our first reading tells us of the story of Prophet Elisha who was welcomed by a rich woman but childless and whose husband was old. Elisha, though a stranger, was welcomed into their home. In their culture at that time, a childless couple would surely suffer shame for having no child. Elisha who was very aware of this feeling of the couple particularly of the woman, prophesied something that would made them truly happy. Elisha promised the couple that by the following year she will certainly have a child.

Thus, though it seemed that it was only Elisha who was welcomed by them but in fact, Elisha on his part also welcomed the desire and the longing of this couple.

This tells us now that welcoming others into our homes or into our lives, brings grace. Making ourselves open for others allows the grace of God to also work in our lives. This is what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans.

Paul reminds us that baptism is a way of welcoming God into our lives. Moreover, it is also God’s way of welcoming us into God’s divine presence. That is why, Paul told us that as we were baptized we also join in the death of Christ. But how? Christ died for our sins. And in baptism, our sin dies because we are being forgiven. Through that forgiveness then we also rise into a new person just as Christ rose from the dead.

The grace of baptism lies here because as we welcome God into our life and God welcoming us, this becomes a “mutual welcoming.” When welcoming becomes mutual then true relationship begins to form and develop. Consequently, God is our Father, and we are God’s children.

This is the same also when we take the risk in welcoming others into our life. True friendship only develops and strengthens when there is a mutual welcoming of each other. This mutual welcoming involves sharing of stories, sharing of pains, sharing of joys as well as sharing of hopes and dreams.

Recently, a dear friend visited me after months of lockdowns. Since our movements now have been eased for a bit, compared to the situation during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, we had an opportunity to catch up with each other personally even for a short period of time. Such simple encounter was indeed a form of mutual welcoming.

However, we also know that in welcoming others we may get hurt. This happens when there is no mutual welcoming in our relationship. A relationship that is colored with manipulation or abuse or betrayal or pretensions is such a toxic relationship. This kind of relationship gives us pain and trauma which could lead us to sadness and misery in life.

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This happened to a friend who welcomed a person in her life. Yet, unknowingly she was not welcomed at all in the life of that person whom she loved. She was just used and abused for the sake of personal pleasure of the other.

But then, the Gospel of Matthew tells us and assures us the kind of relationship Jesus is offering to us. Jesus offers us a relationship that gives and promotes life and joy. Although the Gospel sounds a bit harsh for it suggests to hate our parents, but it actually means to place our relationship with God as the first or the beginning.

 Making God as the first priority in our every relationship gives us a good foundation to our other human relationships. The more we become in touched with our relationships with the Lord, the more we also become in touched with our human relationships.

Consequently, Jesus calls us today to be welcoming, to allow ourselves to open up even though that would mean that we become vulnerable. Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes him who sent me.” Meaning, welcoming others with the intention of loving is welcoming God.

 Making ourselves vulnerable to welcome others is a way of losing our life, yet, in welcoming others, we also realize the beauty of loving and finding our life. Therefore, today, Jesus calls us to be welcoming as we are being welcomed, to be loving as we are also being loved.

Today also, let us seek forgiveness and reconciliation with those whom we have hurt because of our selfishness, dishonesty and indifference. May we truly welcome others in our life too in the way of loving truly and not as a form of manipulating or using others for our own advantage and pleasure. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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