The theme of the final day’s retreat was Loving Service as Sacrament. What do we do as Christians to demonstrate to others that for us (as Catholics) the Eucharist becomes a verb that does justice through the gift of hospitality?
Father Lou shared with us that serving others is the greatest way that we can be Christ to others. That through our hospitality we can live our life story that is connected to God’s story for our life and honor the sacredness that each person represents as a child of God.
Many of us already do this…as mothers, as wives, as husbands, as fathers, as sons and daughters. We serve those that we love. But what about those we don’t love…don’t know? Do we serve them?
As Christians, the Season of Lent, of fasting and abstinence, is not simply a form of penance. It is also a call for us to take stock of our spiritual lives. As Lent begins, we should set out specific spiritual goals we would like to reach before Easter and decide how we will pursue them. For my husband, children and I, we will be looking for opportunities to serve Christ through the gift of hospitality…both to those we know and the strangers that come into our lives on a daily basis.
As I close, I’d like to share with you a simple example of hospitality in action from a few months ago:
After dropping Mary off at preschool, Benjamin and I ran through a cold, bone-chilling rain to our car. As I was strapping Ben into his car seat, a mom in a hurry whipped into the parking space next to me and ran into the preschool, obviously running late. Before I had even got myself strapped in, she was back out to her car, frantically trying to start it. (The car was an older model, very beaten up.)
I rolled down my window as rain/sleet spit at my face and asked her if there was someone I could call for her. With tears in her eyes, she thanked me, but said that she had a cell phone and could call her husband. He was a mechanic and had been meaning to “fix” her starter, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. She also mentioned that she was worried because she was running late and needed her job.
I knew what I had to do.
“Is there someplace that I can drive you to?” Her face lit up and she asked if I could drive her to the gas station in town where she was a clerk. It was a short 2-mile drive and yet she was so grateful…like I had just driven her 200 miles. I can’t even tell you how good it felt to have provided a tiny bit of hospitality to this stranger.
In the words of Bette Midler, “From a Distance”:
“God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us, from a distance.” My prayer this Lenten season is that people of all faiths, of all religions, may look for opportunities to serve others and share the gift of hospitality.