Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 2, 2023
Today’s reading from the Second Book of Kings may be unfamiliar to you. The prophet Elisha receives the hospitality of a wealthy couple. They provide him with a room in their home; the text even describes how it’s to be furnished!
Oddly enough, this story was a childhood favorite of mine, read from a children’s Bible I had back then. I remember being particularly impressed with that guest room. Since then I’ve been a guest many times, and I’m still impressed—when people go out of their way to be hospitable.
Today’s Gospel stresses Christian hospitality, especially to the poor. But before encouraging that value, Jesus sets the bar really high: Our following of him must take priority over everything else in our lives. The context of Christian hospitality is self-sacrificing love–the love that leads to accepting one’s cross. In the Second Reading Paul tells the Romans point-blank: We were baptized into Christ’s death.
A tough standard? And you thought simply making up the guest room was work! Being a Christian in gospel terms is serious business indeed. Alone, we’d fail utterly in that task. But united around the Eucharistic table, we see that we’re not alone. Our faith tells us the sacred meal we share gives us the power to live our baptism–even in the simple, yet impressive task of Christian hospitality.