Philemon 4 -7
Hospitality is creating the space for yourself or another to meet Christ. Paul was faced with the challenge of creating space to meet a fellow prisoner who had wronged Philemon, a friend of his. How easy it would have been for Paul to “write off” Onesimus as a criminal and have nothing to do with him. Instead, Paul chose to open his heart with God’s grace of hospitality and we are now witness to Paul’s joy in this scripture as he witnesses the Holy Spirit changing Onesimus’ heart and probably his own.
Paul’s joy could not be contained. Paul also knew hospitality does not judge. Hospitality welcomes the other to begin the process of reconciliation. He let the joy of God in his heart help open Philemon’s heart to receive Onesimus as a changed man in Christ and be reconciled and live as Christian brothers.
Joy also grounded Paul in his conviction of the change in Onesimus. He trusted his experience. In turn, Paul was able to speak with conviction and forthrightness to Philemon trusting the Holy Spirit to speak to Philemon’s heart.
Hospitality is essential if our spiritual life is to be enlarged and whole. Providing hospitality or making room in our hearts to see Christ in ourselves and in others in joy, provides further hospitality in our spiritual practice. Hospitality both heals and holds us together.
Who do you need to be hospitable to today? What can you do to open your heart?
Sr. Brenda Jenner, SSJD