As a Sister, I have often had the opportunity to show, receive, and witness radical hospitality, such as that spoken of in this quote from the Letter to the Hebrews:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Here are four examples of such radical hospitality that illustrate to me that we never know when we might be entertaining angels among us:
- Many years ago, I had the opportunity to help some people injured in an automobile accident. After the ambulances left the scene, my friends and I realized we were covered in dirt and blood. We needed to get cleaned up before we continued our journey for the day. A woman, who lived close to the accident scene, saw us and invited us to come into her house to get cleaned up. Before we departed from her home, she gave us something to eat and drink, and sent us on our way with her blessing and a hug.
- My friend, Sr. Genie Natividad, MM is ministering in El Paso, Texas with people seeking refuge in our country. Here is her reflection on the hospitality sought, given and received each day in this place.
”On Christmas Eve, a Posada was held followed by Mass at the Casa del Refugiado. The children of those who crossed the border arrived at the Casa and reenacted Mary and Joseph searching for a place to stay before the birth of Jesus. Of course, there were shepherds, sheep and angels as part of the play. Before the final blessing of Mass, the lights were turned off. Then, the children went around lighting the candles of those around them. This symbolizes the Light of Christ that we are called to share even in our darkest of nights. It becomes Holy Night. Together, we sang Silent Night in Portuguese, English, and Spanish.
The Posada that I witnessed that evening mirrors the heartbreaking struggle that the migrants face when they cross the border and are seeking welcome and asylum here in the U.S.
Images of the many (tired, hungry and shivering from the cold) children, women and men arriving at Casa del Refugiado these past eight days are very much in my thoughts and in my heart. I assisted two women yesterday at the Roperia with little children whose husbands have been separated from them. One was in tears as she came to look for a change of clothes for her two-year old daughter and herself. The other woman, with a little boy, said she was hopeful that her husband will be reunited with them soon.”
- Last week, I had the opportunity to see the Musical Theatre production of “Come From Away.” It is based on the stories of the 6,500 people who had to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on 9/11 when the United States closed their airspace after the terrorist attacks. These “Come From Aways” (a term used in Newfoundland for someone who has moved to the area from somewhere else) were received by the generous people of the area who fed, housed, and cared for them for five days until they were able to continue their journeys. The lives of all were changed as a result of giving and receiving radical hospitality.
- This week, several discerning women are joining us for a Mission Immersion program in New Orleans, Louisiana. We will practice and receive radical hospitality as we stay in one of our local convents, serve women and children at Hotel Hope (a shelter for families experiencing homelessness), and as we build houses with the St. Bernard’s Project.
As you look back on the year 2019, I invite you to reflect on those times when you have entertained and have been entertained by angels. Where is God calling you to practice radical hospitality today and in this New Year?
If you feel God calling you to practice that radical hospitality in community, we invite you to contact one of our vocation ministers to begin a conversation about whether you might be called to serve God as a religious sister.