"Walking in Divine Hospitality"
In general, we Filipinos are known to be hospitable people; meaning we are very welcoming, friendly, congenial, warm, and neighborly. We want to serve and give the best to our relatives, friends and basically anyone who comes and visits us in our humble homes. We prepare for them, making sure our houses look clean, fresh, and welcoming. We also prepare good food and drinks to serve them and hope they will enjoy our cooking. We try as much as possible to make them feel at home by offering entertainment like videoke, games, or movies. This is a very typical Filipino custom.
Hebrews 13 teaches us to be hospitable to strangers, because in so doing, some have entertained angels without knowing it! As the Lord taught us, what we do to even the least of our brethren, we do also unto Him. But for us kind-hearted, caring, and generous Filipinos, a little caution is needed. Some will take advantage of our hospitality, so we need God’s guidance and wisdom.
Proverbs 25 looks at the issue of hospitality from the opposite angle: that of the guest. We should not exalt ourselves to a place of honor without an invitation. We must first receive the words “Come up here.“ In Luke 14, Jesus teaches the same topic, and ties it in to the core virtue of humility.
He advises that when we are invited to a gathering, not to seek for the best seat. Do not assume that place is for you, because the host might have it reserved for someone else. Then you will be asked to vacate that high seat, which will bring embarrassment to you. Instead, choose the lowest seat, and when the host sees you, he himself might ask you to transfer to a place of higher honor – if it is truly for you!
We should not think of ourselves as higher than others, boasting of who we are and what we can do. We are who we are, not of our own doing, but because of God’s doing. All we are and all we have, we owe to our Father in Heaven. So if we are to boast: boast in the goodness of God.
Let us learn from our readings today. We might not even be conscious about our actions or attitude in a gathering, but Scripture calls them to our attention. Only in humility can we live our lives in a manner worthy of His calling as ministers of His Kingdom. Let us continue to show our love for our brethren. Let us continue to be kind- hearted and welcoming. And again, let us not neglect hospitality to strangers, because we might entertain angels without knowing it!