In the Gospel Jesus reminds us that the better part of hospitality is more than the service we are to give to the body of a person—it is about paying attention to the person him/herself. Yes, one feeds the body, but then one is most hospitable by listening. He reminds Martha about the better part of hospitality—listening and paying attention to someone. It may be that God’s actual definition of hospitality might mean the care and nurture of fellow souls—rather than setting a Martha Stewart table—and so we set aside our own agenda and priorities for another’s sake. To stop and be present to another person is an acknowledgment of the divine within all of us.
Taking this idea of God’s presence in us another step farther would mean extending that acknowledgement of God’s presence to respect and acceptance and understanding for His presence in all things, in all of Creation. Hospitality and service give way then to stewardship and care, to guardianship and responsibility. We are reminded that in everything living God is present, and we may be judged on how we respond. We don’t always recognize God in the “every day” of our lives!
One of my all-time favorite hymns has a lovely melody and a remarkable poetic text that speaks to the presence of God (a hymn not present in our Journey Songs Hymnal or Missalette, unfortunately). The lovely hymn “He Comes to Us as One Unknown” speaks about all the ways God comes to us: “a breath unseen, in the dark at rest, in the ocean and seas, in flesh and blood (in birth and in Eucharist, in the body of Christ), and in truth when faith is grown.” God is in all things and in every circumstance of our lives.
We should be stirred by God’s presence in all things: from Creation to the Spirit within us all, from love gained and given, in life, in art, in family and in Community. We are called to respond in hospitality⎯with attention and respect, with love and mercy⎯to the presence of God in every one and in all things. I like to believe that somewhere along the way I have given comfort and solace to an angel or two—or at least to any weary soul who needed nourishment, rest and safety in their journey in this wilderness. How about you?
Just a Note: Here is a lovely rendition for choir and assembly of “He Comes To Us As One Unknown.” I have also included two contemporary, thoughtful pieces about the presence of God in all—and by what we will be remembered.