Here at St. Anthony’s, we call July and August the Sabbath Summer, where we rest in the Lord. What are you looking forward to? What do you hope to do? I can’t wait to sleep in during my vacation. Many things will be quieter around the parish. Even my homilies will be shorter… God willing!
However, the Church is asking us to keep hospitality in mind this summer. Instead of seeing the summer as something entirely for ourselves, the Readings suggest that it’s also about taking care of others.
The focus of the second part of the Gospel is on the Jewish notion of ambassadors: An emissary was like the man he represented. And so, Jesus gives five expressions of this notion: “Whoever welcomes you [the apostles] welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Mt 10:40). Whoever welcomes a prophet shares in that prophet’s reward; whoever welcomes a righteous man share in his reward; and finally, “Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you—that person will not lose their reward” (Mt 10:42). Simple gestures are so important to Jesus. Even small acts of kindness done because of someone’s association with Him will be rewarded.
The First Reading was chosen to focus us on hospitality: A wealthy woman regularly feeds Elisha who passes by, but, it would appear that, at the beginning, she didn’t know he was a prophet; she simply took care of a wandering stranger. In return, Elisha seeks to find her the right gift. He perceives that what would mean most to her would be the gift of a son, and so, he promises her that she’ll give birth soon.
Years ago, I visited a family for dinner, and, when I walked into the dining room, I was shocked when they also invited someone else to dinner. I was looking forward to being with this energetic family, but, in their Christian goodness, they had invited someone who was lonely. They didn’t invite her because she would add something to the conversation, they invited her because they saw Christ in her.
So, during the Sabbath Summer, there will be a tension between our need to relax and our vocation to love.
Here are three principles to keep in mind:
1) Focus on that which gives life. A good vacation doesn’t happen by chance. This doesn’t mean we plan every hour, but we’re intentional about rest, our relationship with Jesus and others, and having good fun. This is why disciples always go to Mass while on vacation, because, without Jesus, everything falls apart.
2) Be open to welcoming others into your life. Is there any chance that you could welcome others into your home as Christ welcomes us? Like the Shunamite woman in the First Reading, could we create a space for them to rest?
On Sunday, August 13, 2023, at 2 p.m., we’re going to have a big BBQ at Triangle Park. We’re inviting all of our neighbours here in Marpole to share in free food. We’ve thought about this for years, and now we’re acting. It’s a simple gesture of love to everyone in our community. And if it’s life-giving for you to help, please talk to the Hospitality Team about volunteering.
3) What would it take for us to have the kind of energy that that family whom I visited had, in which we’re so overflowing that we can invite people who are lonely to our homes? That’s our goal for this summer! I’m going on vacation so that I can love Jesus and you more. A good vacation means, for instance, after watching a good movie or having a great meal, we desire to pray, serve, and evangelize! When September comes, we’re going to have a lot of chances to grow spiritually and love others: Alpha, Faith Studies, and Journey Through Scripture. There’s also the Men’s Retreat, and the Upper Room Conference.
May this summer be the most blessed one ever: May the Holy Spirit fill us to the point of overflowing, that we’ll want others to have the fullness of life! We’re going to rest in the Lord, and be hospitable when He passes by.