From a Creighton Student's Perspective
November 5th , 2007
Senior, English and Women’s & Gender Studies
Its occurrence interrupts, it halts us in our step, it makes us cringe on the other end of the line—
It is the instance, however infrequent, when the casual and habitual “How are you?” we extend to the acquaintance we pass by on campus, or the classmate we call for a homework assignment, is met with a genuine response of distress, fatigue, sadness or despair. As the extender of the question, you become implicated in the reply, and a moment of grace ensues.
It happened to me at the beginning of the school year. I had just returned home from a summer away, and I found myself knee-deep in clothes, school books, and moving boxes when I received a phone call from an unfamiliar local number. I intended to silence the call and return to my pursuits but, as fate would have it, I pushed the wrong button and answered instead. It turned out to be a friend.
“How are you?” I asked brightly, falsely, all the while
formulating an immediate exit plan.
I sat down in the middle of the room and listened to a friend whose heart had been broken, a friend who needed to have her feelings validated. Her phone call was inconvenient, lengthy and completely one-sided, and we were both the better for it.
Openness to God involves a special receptivity to those courageous enough to admit, “I am afflicted and in pain and in need of a loving response.” To receive, to accept and to embrace the opportunity to demonstrate hospitality is a sacred act. The virtue of hospitality reminds us that Christ appears when we least expect him; Christianity is not a convenience. My membership in the community of God demands my availability and attention; my flexibility and spontaneity. Human needs are unpredictable, as is the call of God.
In Luke's gospel today, we see Jesus dining at the home of a Pharisee whose idea of hospitality is to invite those who can repay the invitation. Instead, Jesus suggests inviting the poor and the lame who can't possibly invite you back - "Blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you."
Let us welcome whatever comes our way, be that a midnight phone call, an early morning fender bender, a stray cat, a homeless man, an acquaintance who could be a friend if only we took the time—those sacred inconveniences that root us more firmly together, and remind us of our common membership in Christ. Let it be our task as Christians to extend an inexhaustible welcome in an often exhausting world.
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