We are called to hospitality. Peter tells us, “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay” (1 Peter 4.9). Hospitality is motivated out of love for our neighbors and reveals itself generously and sincerely. It’s aware of the need around it, and it looks for ways in which to give.
In your communities of faith, family, and work, you know people who have babies, who have lost jobs, who are moving, or who have had a loved one die. All of these are situations that open the door to hospitality.
And we offer hospitality. We set up a date to clean a home or prepare a meal. We make a pie, and then ask when we can bring it over. We drop off non-perishable groceries when no one is home. We give, and we give creatively and secretly. I have been blessed by others’ hospitality.
But hospitality doesn’t end with our community, or with our friends. We are also supposed to love the neighbor who smells, who dresses strangely, who is uneducated, who is different: “Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you” (Luke 14.13,14). Are we hospitable to the poor, to those our society has rejected?
I turn on the news and I hear about immigration. I think about the pregnant women who risk everything that their children might be born on American soil. I think about men wanting a better life for themselves and for their families. Then I hear our angry speeches. I understand the issue is complex, but I still wonder if the wealthiest nation on earth has an obligation toward its impoverished neighbor – if the Rich Man has an obligation toward Lazarus. Shouldn’t our obligation to love one another and to care for the poor be the driving factor in our discussions?
My own great-grandmother emigrated from Poland not so long ago.
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7.12), and, “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23.9).
Few of us know the bitterness of watching our children suffer. What would that be like? What would we do to alleviate that kind of suffering? There are people in our world who need a meal, who need a place to stay. There are people who have hungry children and no way to feed them.
We must stop talking about what comforts opening our home to those in need may steal away from us. Instead, we must begin talking about how our indifference and prejudice may steal away our souls.