This week’s readings deal with the theme of hospitality which was so very important in the mid-East. As a matter of fact, it still is today. A number of years ago I was on a tour of Egypt and the Holy Land. On a free day, my aunt and I hired a car and took a drive to that part of Israel called Samaria. I wanted to see the place where Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, and Mount Gerizim where Joshua called upon the Israelites to choose between their God or the gods of Canaan. After we visited the well which is very deep, we went up to Mount Gerizim where some Samaritans live today and sacrifice a paschal lamb each year. Our guide introduced us to the high priest who invited us into his house. He was very friendly and gave us a banana to eat. He apologized for not being able to offer a meal because it was the Sabbath and no work could be done. He was as hospitable as the law would allow.
Because Abraham showed such wonderful hospitality, he was rewarded. Yet when Martha showed great hospitality to Jesus and complained that Mary was not helping, Jesus seems to rebuke her. Perhaps he is letting us know that while hospitality is important, being present to God is more important. After all, love of neighbor is second to love of God. Let us try to improve on both loves – of God and of neighbor.
- Fr. Carl