Our first reading from 2Kings tells a story about “a woman of influence.” She persuades her husband to prepare a permanent place in their house where the prophet Elisa could stay during his preaching journeys. Jesus in our Gospel alludes to this story and asks his disciples and us to imitate this example of hospitality. Jesus begins with some harsh-sounding statements: “Whoever loves father or mother … son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Of course Jesus did not mean this as a literal statement. He was challenging his listeners and us to go beyond the comfort zone of our families and friends, to widen our circles, and to be generous with those who depend on our generosity. In his day, those dependent on being welcomed included his own disciples. They were not being paid to go on their missionary journeys! They were dependent on the hospitality of strangers in the villages and towns where they traveled to tell people about Jesus. It is not so easy to be “hospitable.” We are “tribal.” We worry that being generous with outsiders might harm our own families — put college funds or retirement monies or more immediate needs at risk. We wonder, if we are generous, whether our money will really go to those in need or mainly into administrative and advertising costs of the agencies we give to. We worry that beggars will waste our offerings and immigrants will take jobs our own U.S. citizens need. So being generous calls us to do inner work. We need to speak about these questions with our families, like the “woman of influence” did with her husband. We need to put aside these concerns enough so that the needs of strangers may speak to our hearts. Only then can we be truly welcoming of others, hospitable, letting others come into our private space, and making an appropriate response to those needing our welcome.
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia