I spent the last three weeks with my mum who was visiting Scotland. I looked after her carefully, making special dinners and taking her to interesting places in our area. All that made her feel special. But there were two very special moments when she really was surprised, that was when two Scottish families invited us to dine with them. There is an old Polish proverb: “When a guest enters your house, God himself enters”. Generous hospitality is something very important in Polish culture. Seemingly that’s common practice worldwide. The Jewish religion looked on hospitality as something very sacred, this was then inherited by Christians. There are also many legends about monarchs visiting their subjects disguised as common folk; hospitality shown them was rewarded; lack of it was punished.
In today’s first reading Abraham generously entertained three visitors despite it being the hottest part of the day; a good time for a siesta, but disastrous for cooking. But the attitude of Abraham was rewarded: a childless old man for almost one hundred years was given the pledge of having a child within one year. That was the answer to his life-long deepest prayer.
It might appear that today’s gospel says something which is the opposite to this. Martha complains to Jesus that her sister doesn’t help in the kitchen and wastes time sitting about and listening to Jesus. But Jesus doesn’t send Mary to the kitchen; what’s more he praises her for choosing the better part. There are many different ways to be generous. One way might be financially, but this is not necessarily the most important way. For my mum the better part of her stay in Scotland was the time she spent with me; much more important than the special dinners I made.
Of course, today’s readings are not meant to be a guide for entertaining visitors. They call us to be generous to God. Despite good weather enticing us outside or bad weather keeping us at home, whether summer activities or summer leisure attracts us we can (and I think we should) invite God to visit us: by everyday prayer and Sunday mass. God is standing at the door of your heart and gently knocking. Open the door and invite him inside: your generosity will be rewarded.