SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
Readings: Gen. 18: 1-10a; Resp. ps. 15: 2-3a. 3bc-4ab.5; Col. 1:24-28; Luke 10: 38-42
Last Sunday the readings specifically emphasised the dignity of the human person by stating categorically clear that every human being is a neighbour. Meaning that every person no matter how small in stature, low in rank or position is another you also created like you in the image and likeness of God.
Today’s readings are a follow up to last Sunday. They focus on certain neighbours in our midst – strangers, visitors, guests and all persons that we are not too familiar with. These set of persons approach us as customers in our business establishments, patients in the hospitals, parishioners in the parishes, fellow citizens in our offices. The big question is: how do we relate to them? How do we treat them?
The first reading and the Gospel passage give us stories of how visitors, strangers and guests have been nicely treat and how such hosts or hostesses as the case may be were greatly rewarded. Take for example the story of Abraham and the three men. Abraham welcomed them and took care of them and at the end he was greatly rewarded: “’Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘She is in the tent.’ THE LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son” (Gen. 18: 9-10). The cares he lavished on the three men resulted in the reward of the gift of a son that Abraham and Sarah had been longing for.
Again, in the Gospel we see the female friends of Jesus welcoming Him warmly and with a very good treat. They were rewarded with the presence of God and later Jesus would raise their dead brother Lazarus in John 11:43ff.
My dear people of God, what do we stand to gain when we welcome and treat people nicely?
First, we unknowingly entertain not just persons but God Himself in them who created them in His image and likeness. There is a popular saying by the Indians – Guests are God! Robin Sharma in his book The Greatness Guide shares his experience about the expression Guests are God. He says when he went to India to give a leadership seminar, he boarded a taxi cab and he admired the way the cab driver cared for him. The cab driver’s name was Ramesh Sharma. Since they had the same surname, they got chatting more and the driver told Robin Sharma so much about his life, passion, philosophy. Robin laughed and said to the driver, I discovered that Indians are among the happiest people in the world. And then the driver said something very interesting. “In the North of India, where I’m from, he noted with pride, ‘a guest is God.’ When someone comes to our home, we treat them with the highest of respect and love. Even if we have to miss eating, we make sure they are well fed. That’s our culture. It brings us joy.” Do we still have such culture in our society today that is gradually creeping into individualism and insensitivity? We cheat customers, maltreat patients and pretend to be handling their health issues even when we are not medically competent. In government offices, people are made to bribe their way through before they are attended to. Files are hardly made available unless tips are given. Remember Heb. 13:2 “And do not be willing to forget hospitality. For by it, certain persons, without realizing it, have received Angels as guests.”
There is also what we call “Need factor.” This requires that you a host or hostess should be quick to listen to your guest/visitor and identify his/her purpose of visit. That also implies in the course of entertainment. Ask what could be done or what could be offered. Don’t bring all you have and at the end feel embarrassed. I have experienced it myself severally, when I embark on visitation. People though trying to express kindness, end up embarrassing me with food and drinks while those are not my need. That was the problem of Martha. Jesus wanted somebody to listen to Him and Mary got the mind of Jesus – need factor.