Put Out The Red Carpet Of Welcome
One morning, after breakfast, in Jerusalem, a Belgian priest told me an unusual story about Christ. All the Belgian people speak excellent English. “Today”, the priest said, “I am going to the village of Taibe, about 20 miles north of here. When Jesus was fleeing from His enemies in Galilee, He came to Taibe where he received food, drink and warm hospitality. In the 2,000 years since then”, the priest went on to tell me, “this village and it’s people have always remained faithful to the Person of Jesus and His teachings. History bears this out. The villagers of Taibe consider this gift of faithfulness to be the blessing that Jesus left with them for their kindness shown to Him.”
What a compelling story I thought to myself; one which I had never read about in any book. The Lord richly rewards those who offer Him hospitality and welcome. To me, the Belgian priest acted as a messenger of an inspired story from God.
When I welcome the Lord warmly, with affection into my heart – my home, I am making my heart – my home a modern day village of Taibe. With me, the Lord feels safe and blesses my heart and home in ways beyond all description.
At our reception of the Eucharist, Jesus of Nazareth comes into our hearts, not as a symbol of Himself, but rather as the True Person of the Gospels. If we greet Him week after week with enthusiasm and devotion, He will do what He has done at the village of Taibe for these 2,000 years, namely give us a spirit of faithfulness to Himself and His teachings.
The Lord of Taibe can come to us under many disguises: as a poor person seeking help, a handicapped child, a sick relative needing a word of encouragement. Jesus has identified Himself with all His brothers and sisters. “Whatsoever you do to the least of mine, you do to Me.” This is the amazing adventure of our journey of faith.
Be conscious of this truth. Treat everyone crossing our path as a Christ-bearer. Put an empty chair at the dinner table and at meal prayers offer Christ an invitation to a home cooked meal. He will be there.
Fr. George Mc Kenna