Hospitality

I hope you will find inspiration in the snippet I have edited and pasted below – passed on by Greg Elsdon in his St Paul’s City Ministry Reflections.

I would like to think that such a practice of hospitality pervades Oasis.

For much of our society today hospitality has become something reserved for those we want to impress. Hospitality is a business endeavour for those who want to please their customers so as to increase their revenue. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if hospitality was, rather, a way of showing respect and care for all people with no return required or expected. A spirituality of hospitality is lived out of an attitude of care and respect for all creation and a belief in the dignity of the human person. It is why we do something that is often more important than what we do.

In order to offer hospitality in a spiritual context we have to take a look around. Who is in need and what do they need? Who isn’t included and how can they be welcomed? Who doesn’t seem to have a voice and what will help them to be heard? Most of us prefer to live in our comfort zones. We don’t notice the student always eating alone, the homeless man selling newspapers, the woman counting her pennies to buy groceries. Some people seem so different from us that we don’t recognize them as our brother or sister.

A spirituality of hospitality calls us to generosity and service. Hospitality requires that we consider how our words and actions affect others and our environment. It requires that we reflect on how our spending or use of materials effect people on the other side of our world. A spirituality of hospitality invites us to reflect on how life might be made better for those who are in need. It calls us to take that reflection to discussion and then to action.

A preferential option for guests in our home means that they have clean sheets and towels, that coffee will be ready in the morning. They are kind acts that help people to feel comfortable when they are away from home. Hospitality, in its broader meaning, is a way of living that goes beyond a thoughtful gesture.

To be hospitable is to be open and receptive to the ideas of another. Do we allow people their opinions? Are we always on the look out for ulterior motives, suspicious that there is a hidden agenda? Do we believe that we have been truly heard only if our own ideas prevail? Are we open to the possibility that others have a piece of the truth? Hospitality is about listening with an open heart to the perspective of another.

Hospitality is about promoting right relationships. Often, hospitality is a reflection of forgiveness. It isn’t easy to extend ourselves when there is a tension between us and the other person. The smallest inclusion or generous action can create space for reconciliation. The openness and invitation to reconciliation can be a most hospitable act.

Arlene Scott is a Dominican Sister and the Assistant Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Barry University in Miami, Florida. This article was originally published in the Adrian Dominican Sisters Newsletter, Voices in Mission. (An extract from St Pauls City Mission Reflections, April 22, 2008)

One thought on “Hospitality

  1. Thank you so much for these words on "hospitality". We find them inspiring us, and will use them to inspire our people. Maureen 22 July 2011

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