Friday, May 9, 2008

Hostility or Hospitality

I like very much Malcolm’s challenge to find a new expression of being God’s people by the offer of hospitality. Hospitality is a fundamental expression of the Gospel.
It is important to find new words and ways in which Christ’s love can be shown. Hospitality is such a word. It speaks of invitation, unconditional acceptance and pre-supposes a commitment to inclusiveness.
Remember the words from Isaiah, “ Come everyone who is thirsty, come, you that have no money, come buy wine and milk . . and you’ll enjoy the best food of all.”

Albert Einstein said that all philosophical and scientific inquiry could be boiled down to one simple question: “Is the universe a friendly place?” Our answer to that question determines whether we live with hostility of hospitality the juxtaposition of which is beautifully addressed by Henri Nouwen.

He argues that the God we know in Christ coverts our hostility into hospitality. Because of our estrangement from God we end up living in fear and insecurity and fearing God’s punishment. If we believe we are deserving of punishment we cannot love ourselves, and if we can’t love ourselves we can’t love our neighbour. The evidence of this is our fearful, defensive, aggressive behaviours and how we anxiously cling to our property and look at the surrounding world with suspicion, always expecting an enemy to appear and treating strangers as though they are enemies.

Our heart might desire to help others, to feed the hungry, to visit the prisoner and offer shelter to the traveler, but meanwhile we have surrounded ourselves with a wall of fear and hostile feelings, instinctively avoiding people and places that might remind us of our good intentions.

Now all this is in marked contrast to the obligation that is ours as Christians. We know God to be loving. We know Christ who came to seek and save the lost. We know that God invites us into fellowship. Our fear has been dealt to. We live therefore as agents of God’s inviting love. It is our vocation to offer hospitality, to convert the enemy into a guest and to create a free and fearless place where brotherhood and sisterhood can be formed and fully experienced.
God’s hospitality is illustrated in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. “Go out into the highways & the byways and bring back the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.”
May it be so

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