What can we learn from the Biblical principle of hospitality? The Nuns discuss!
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Everything was made from scratch, all different kinds of food. You know, I always think about this and you can find websites that can tell about the kinds of food they had, but it was all prepared by hand. You know, we have these wonderful statues -- quite beautiful artwork with Mary, you know, often in marble, looking calm and stuff. You know, what if we thought about her having him to bake flat bread out of barley grain, barley flour, and milk the goat to get to get milk -- and prepare that for Jesus and Joseph and the extended family with them. She's not quite going to be a marble statue. There's going to be some sweat coming off of her brow.
Yeah, and it also extends to that idea of what it means to be hospitable. Certainly in the ancient world, that was not something that was easy to do. It was, as you mentioned, often by the sweat of their brow.
You couldn't just pull out a frozen pizza, and pop it in the oven. [laughter] As you were talking, I was thinking about my grandmother who is now dwelling in light. When we would go over to visit, she would already have been cooking sauce all morning long, like three or four hours. So that by the time that we visited, she already had the pasta and the sauce, we're ready to go, the meat was just about ready to come out of the oven. It didn't matter what time of day it was, it could have been 10 in the morning, could have been seven o'clock at night. Grandma always had that stuff. And it struck me as you were talking that hospitality and food -- it's not just something that we sort of sit around and wait until someone says, "I'm hungry," or "My feet need to be washed," or "I need a need a place to sit down." There's a proactivity about it -- like my grandmother, where it was already expected. It was already prepared. There was an anticipation that was involved in that sense of hospitality. And I felt it as a kid and as a young adult, walking into Grandma's house -- to know that she was already ready to receive me and was already ready to nurture me coming in the door.
That's wonderful. Readiness. And to feed a guest who unexpectedly came in the ancient world, when food was not all that plentiful. You know the expression FHB? FHB means "family hold back." I've already been in a convent where we had expected guests -- that's where I learned the word. Somebody comes in, and the person serving the meal just puts it on the table and says, "Oh, isn't this wonderful? Now everybody, you know, FHB!" That means we'll make sure they get their food because we're going to have to go light on our helping. That kind of thing.
Yeah. And so it's not like you're giving out of your excess; you're giving out of your need -- you know, the story about the woman with the two coins, that message came through to me. But it sounds like at the time, folks who were engaged in hospitality, it wasn't something that was easy to do, as you were saying, but it also wasn't something that came without sacrifice.
That's right. Sacrifice is important. And there is a story of Elijah or Elisha, I don't have that in my head right at the moment. Where there's a woman or widow with a child, and they have very little food and he asked for some and she said, "I don't know enough to give." But when she gives, then it never runs out. Also the hospitality story that's really great is the Old Testament, Chapter 18 in Genesis I love this one. Abraham and Sarah are in their tent, and Abraham looks up -- he's sitting in the doorway -- and there's some strangers coming. He invites them in and he tells his servant to get water to wash their feet, and asks Sarah to prepare a meal. That happens, and in the course of it, one of the strangers is revealed as God, and promises both of them -- Abraham and Sarah -- they will have a son. So I mean this wonderful promise of the generation, starting the whole generations of the Hebrew people, comes from the gift of hospitality.
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This podcast has been lightly edited for readability.