“All guests that come to the monastery should be received like Christ” (The Rule, 53.1)
The caricature of the South is of men and women sitting on their front porches, drinking sweet tea, chiding the neighbor’s children, and talking about the latest news in the town. For us, in our town, that sight is rare to non-existent, as we commute 1-2 hours to and from work, get home, head straight inside, and lock the door. If we hang out with friends, it’s normally out, and not in our house. Our house is for eating, sleeping, and watching TV. The art of hospitality as disappeared along with the welcoming front porch of your neighbor’s house. Our architecture has even taken this into account with a small front porch being replaced with bigger game rooms and basements with more gadgets and electronics.
St. Benedict, however, calls us to something different– he calls us to radical hospitality that requires us to look for (even if it’s extremely difficult) the imago dei in the person knocking at our door or visiting our home.
It brings up good questions– like, what does it mean to receive someone as Christ in our church? in our own homes?
We can’t be a generation blamed for not sharing enough about our lives, however, most of the time it’s a carefully choreographed set of Instagram posts, Facebook updates, and Tweets that make us look like the person we want to be and not the person we truly are– we hide behind social media to avoid being truly honest and open with each other and thus truly hospitable to those around us.
Hospitality is an act of grace, as it’s a free gift of your home to someone who may or may not (in your opinion) deserve to be in your home or have your attention. We are not saved by hospitality whether it be in opening our home or opening the door at our parish, but we are able to present a gracious and open God to those who step through either of those doors.