Are we really hospitable or do we only welcome those who are similar to us, or those that we feel we have something in common with?
Who are the people you invite round for a meal? Those like you, or those who are lonely or have nothing?
Hospitality is not simply inviting people over for dinner because they are good conversationalists. Hospitality is about welcoming people into our lives, meeting their needs, and reaching out, even to strangers, enemies, and hostile people.
The good news of the Gospel is rooted in hospitality. Jesus shared hospitality with those the rest of society didn’t see as respectable. Even with those who were at odds with him – his enemies.
The outpouring of hospitality to Ukrainians has been amazing, but where was this opening of arms and homes to Syrians, Iranians, Afghans and other refugees?
In Matthew’s Gospel we read “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and in prison and you came to visit me.” (25:35-36).
All through the Bible we are urged to show hospitality to strangers - nothing about whether they are the same as us or whether they ‘deserve’ it.
So what does this mean in practise? Hospitality in its widest form will include seeking justice, and political action on behalf of others, as well as practical assistance, and inclusion around our tables.
Jesus is our example, He welcomed strangers, those others thought ‘unclean’ and looked down on. He kept an open table.
Sharing food and hospitality with those most marginalised and excluded is something we are all called to practise.