For the past few years, the Saint Brigid parish staff has been laser-focused on hospitality. We have worked very diligently to create an environment of welcome.
Today I was struck by the questions:
What does it look like to be a people of hospitality in a world of social distancing?
How can we welcome our neighbors in a world where they may be infected, or we may infect them?
The answers to these questions may look a bit different in this time of isolation. Perhaps the answer is not physical hospitality but rather spiritual hospitality. Many of us have said things like, "I would pray more if I just had more time." Well, now is your time. The distractions are gone.
• Now is the time to pray and read scripture.
• Now is the time to sit in silence and meditate.
• Now is the time to reflect on Jesus' identification with the sick, the vulnerable, and the sinful.
• And now is the time to pray for each other!
While it is true we cannot share a hug, we can offer a spiritual hug and offer a prayer for each other. We also have the time to focus on hospitality toward God. Let's all spend some quite time inviting God into our hearts, asking God for a closer relationship. There can be no hospitality toward God without first a silent, meditative, prayerful invitation to God.
While it maybe from six feet away, we can all practice hospitality to a neighbor, even a neighbor that’s been a challenge. There are vulnerable people around us who may have been forgotten, ignored, or overlooked. Hospitality in a world of COVID-19 looks like thinking of them when no one else does. It looks like letting our neighbors (including that challenging neighbor) know you’re there if they need anything.
We can also send encouraging prayers via text or email to people cloistered in their homes, living in fear. Or we can send prayers of healing for people who get sick. There is no better time than this to reach out to our neighbors and simply let them know you are praying for them. Social distancing does not mean we cannot live out the radical Christian ethic of hospitality.
In the weeks and months ahead, our lives may change in ways we cannot now imagine. And our faith may grow in ways we could have dreamed without the testing of COVID-19. Christian hospitality shines brightest in days of persecution and plague. It is during hard times—dangerous times—when Christians demonstrate that real love takes courage, we model Christ to a watching world.
Do not fear, COVID-19 is not going to overcome the world. Christ is. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).
Prayer: Invite God into your heart, show him true hospitality. Pray for your neighbors especially the ones who challenge you.
Action: Send a prayer to someone you know needs one.