There are times when our hospitality will be stretched beyond what we feel we can offer.
It can be a fine line between others’ needs and our own.
“We have to be vulnerable enough to let someone else mess up our house for a while,” Sister Mary Core says. “To invite them in with mud on their shoes.
“But hospitality doesn’t mean accepting destructive behavior toward self or others. And we need to avoid doing things for them that will cause resentment either on our part or theirs.”
Hospitality sometimes requires discernment, as when someone barges into our office or asks for time we feel we cannot spare.
“Hospitality requires some internal dialogue,” Sister Marianne Burkhard, OSB says. “We want to be open, to get off our personal agenda at least for a moment. Jesus Christ himself led an interrupted life.”
Sister Jackie Walsh, OSB says her job might look like nothing but interruptions from the outside. As administrative assistant for Benet House Retreat Center, she answers the phone and greets guests all day.
“Interruptions are my job,” she says. “My ministry is serving our guests and making them feel comfortable.
“You don’t realize what an impact you make in their lives until you read their evaluations. We find out we’ve touched them. They touch us, too.”
In other words, Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:1-2)
Sister Catherine Cleary shares a similar lesson through this favorite story:
“A woman hears a knock at the door. She wakes up, goes to the door and sees Jesus standing there. She asks him in and says, Welcome, Jesus! I’m so glad you came. But did you have to come at 2 in the morning?”
Sr. Catherine says if we can see the person in front of us as Jesus Christ himself, it’s amazing how revived we can get.
The key is balance: welcoming whole-heartedly, while loving and welcoming self equally.