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Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ

by davesandel on September 27th, 2021

Monday, September 27, 2021                        (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ

Margaret made clam linguine. We bought the clams from our Asian grocery, but then she added fish sauce, Better-than-Bouillon, green onions and other fabulous stuff, although we couldn’t find the anchovies. It was so good! We are hoping to share it with Jasper today.

Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem. The city shall be filled with boys and girls in its streets, even if this should seem impossible now.

We met a couple at church yesterday who spend every Friday night sitting in their driveway, and neighbors come to join them every week. They bring their own lawn chairs. Some folks join them every week. When they moved in their neighbors on both sides came on the first day to greet them, bring them food, and see what else they needed. Now they do the same.

I told them about my experience at Houseboat and Backyard Gang, monthly guy groups where everyone is welcome, everyone is well-fed, and everyone is given time to speak. No strings attached.

I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. They shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Hospitality is easy when you feel welcome in your own home. A neighbor’s car was stranded outside our apartment yesterday and this morning. When we came back from church, he told us the problem had been diagnosed. This evening the car is gone. We tried to make him feel “welcome” just by talking for a minute or two. That was the best we could do this time, I guess. Now that I think of it, I wish we’d brought him a cold bottle of water.

The other evening, about 11 pm, a neighbor friend called and asked for help shutting down her smoke alarm, which would not stop beeping. No one answered the emergency maintenance phone line. I drove over, tried to get it stopped, but failed. Still, she felt cared for, and the next day she dropped off a Walgreens gift card. “Thank you!” she said.

The Lord looked down from heaven and beheld the earth, he heard the groaning of its prisoners. He came to release those doomed to die.

That would be all of us, and for that reason and many others I want to be more open and friendly than I am. Margaret introduced herself to our new friend-couple at church, and I followed along. She broke the ice, and I dove in. But I’m not alone, of course. Many of our neighbors are not quick to initiate greetings. And even today’s lectionary guest, Saint Vincent de Paul, said of himself that “except for the grace of God he would have been hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” None of us have time for that. All of us are doomed to die.

Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.

Benedictine monasteries are famous for their welcoming signs. “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ.” The monks generally keep vows of silence, so they depend on their signs to convey their greetings.

We stayed in the guesthouse of St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana for a few days in the fall of 2012, and Father Coleman was my spiritual director for three sessions. We shared stories, he listened to my wandering stream of consciousness, and I felt the kind of welcome that allows me to easily remember his name eight years later. You can see in the picture how happy I am. We were (are) about the same age, but he had lived in the monastery since he left high school. They offered to receive him like Christ, and he accepted.

And he accepted me. To be received like Christ is also to be received by Christ, and there is nothing better than that in the whole wide world.

(Zechariah 8, Psalm 102, Mark 10, Luke 9)

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