July 21, Welcoming: a Sunday Scriptures blog

At one point in my life, I was in the Middle East with a study group, and we visited a Bedouin encampment in the sand desert. We got to see a hospitality tent — a very wide tent with its flaps pinned open, with cushions spread on rugs inside, waiting for visitors. Apparently it is a very old Bedouin practice to have a hospitality tent so that visitors, so rare in the vast desert, can be given a royal welcome. In our Hebrew Scripture reading this coming Sunday, Abraham is sitting in the entrance of his tent, and he welcomes three mysterious visitors and serves them a meal. In the Gospel, Martha and Mary welcome Jesus to their home and serve him a meal. The theme of welcoming at meals (or failing to do that) is characteristic of Luke’s Gospel, the main Gospel of this lectionary year C. And after Vatican II, being welcoming has become a motif for Catholics — think of the oft-sung hymn “All are Welcome.” Welcoming does not always mean serving a meal, of course. I think other welcoming actions are very needed in our culture today. For example, putting away that cell phone or audio device or turning off the TV to listen and talk to someone; letting oneself be interrupted in a task in order to chat or meet a need; visiting someone we might know who is alone or lonely; warmly embracing a new member of our circle or club or other group to which we belong; asking someone you don’t know or perhaps don’t much like to join you at your lunch table … all these are small ways that we express how we are all welcomed by the Lord into the Kingdom and its banquet table.

– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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