STAY WITH US.The Emmaus Episode (Luke 24:13–35), focuses on the following:
- Interpretation of scriptures by the risen Lord which led the Emmaus disciples to say to each other "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" This indicates the disposition we must have when the Word of God is preached.
- On the recognition of Him in the breaking of the bread. This teaches us that we must expect an encounter with Jesus at every Eucharist we attend.
It must be noted that the Emmaus account is more catechetical (teaching) and liturgical (celebrating) than apologetic (defending the faith).
My attention was drawn specifically to verse 29 (But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.), which is a clarion call to practice hospitality. The Emmaus disciples as we see were extending common courtesy to the anonymous stranger who had a longer journey before him, but had no shelter for the night. Travel by night was unsafe because of the dangers of the road - from robbers and wild animals, and also because of climate uncertainties.
The call to hospitality has become the need of the hour since homelessness is on the rise. According to a study, in 2005 itself 100 million people worldwide were homeless. This happened due to various reasons, some of them are mentioned below. Further, the condition of these people becomes pitiable due to the dangers they are exposed to.
Lack of affordable housing
Displacement in the name of town planning with inadequate compensation or unsuitable alternate accommodation, at times they are driven out without any compensation or alternate accommodation.
Family and relationship breakdown/Domestic violence
Effects of war
What is hospitality?
Hospitality is making room for people in need. It is a hallmark of Christian living.
The Greek word translated "hospitality" means "love of strangers." Further, it’s no coincidence that ‘hospitality’ and ‘hospital’ come from the same Latin word ‘hospitium’, for they both lead to the same result: healing.In opening our door to someone in hospitality, we are sending a message of love and concern: ‘you matter to me and to God.’
Thus showing hospitality just might be the first step in showing that person the way to heaven.
Why must we show hospitality?
Hospitality was specifically commanded by God:
Lev 19:33-34 `When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
Rom 12:13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality
Hospitality was to be characteristic of all believers, especially of bishops:
1 Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Tim 3:2 Now the overseer (Bishop) must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
Titus 1:8 Rather he (Bishop) must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
Heb 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Jesus emphasized the importance of hospitality by answering the question of who should inherit the kingdom"
Matt 25:35 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 in,
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also teaches us so:
CCC 2447 The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.
How can we show hospitality?
We can adopt some of the following ways to help in alleviating the problems of the homeless and those without shelter:
By welcoming them in our homes – this must be done with proper discernment, guidance from the legal cell, and with consent from the family members.
Make efforts to restore them to their families if they have been lost due to memory failure (in cases where they are suffering Alzheimer’s disease or any other disease resulting in memory loss) or if have lost their way or are stranded because they have no money to travel home.
Get them admitted in a shelter homes run by the government, non-profit institutions, or by the church.
Support such institutions with personal donations and raise support from others to support such institutions.
Enroll yourself in bodies which take up the work of maintenance of these institutions and obtain justice for the inmates.
Pray for these people – ones cared for and the care-givers.
Then will we hear the words of commendation from the Lord:
Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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 in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Whom is God putting in your path today?
In the movie The Four Feathers, Harry left England in the 1880s to search for his friends in the King’s army in Sudan. In his quest, Harry got lost and was near death in the vast deserts of Africa. As his life was ebbing away, he was rescued by an African, Fatima, who cared for him. Stunned by the man’s kindness to a stranger, Harry asked why his new friend had done so much for him. Fatima’s response was simple and direct: “God put you in my path!”
Whomever God puts in your path today, remember Christ comes in that person. So give your best as Christ deserves nothing but the best. This is so beautifully expressed by the 17th-century English poet Robert Herrick in the following poem:
Christ, He requires still, wheresoever’s He comes,
To feed, or lodge, to have the best of rooms:
Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part
Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart.