Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY
Br. Bernard Delcourt,OHC
Proper 8 Year A- Sunday, July 2, 2017
Listen to this sermon's recording
Proper 8 Year A- Sunday, July 2, 2017
|Br. Bernard Delcourt|
Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
for He is going to say,
"I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.
RB Chapter 53
Our Gospel passage of today comes at the end of Matthew’s Missionary Discourse also referred to as the Little Commission. This discourse in Matthew 10 provides instructions to the twelve apostles who are about to spread out throughout Israel.
In the discourse Jesus advises them how to travel from city to city, to carry no belongings and to preach only to Israelite communities. He tells them to be wary of opposition, but have no fear for they will be told what to say to defend themselves when needed.
Later in the gospel according to Matthew (28:16-20), Jesus gives the Apostles the Great Commission, sending them out to all nations, not only to Israelites.
Today’s three verses conclude the Missionary Discourse by telling the apostles that those who welcome them will be rewarded, they will receive a blessing. It will be as if they were receiving Jesus himself.
Nowadays, we consider both the missionary endeavor and the duty of hospitality to be directed to all manner of people and not only a chosen people.
This week, at the monastery, eight Young Adults Service Corp missionaries and an adult missionary completed their two week orientation. Through the summer and fall they will be deployed to works of the Anglican Communion throughout the world. And those works address the needs of all, not only Anglicans or Christians.
I’ll focus on the hospitality side of our reading. A greater number of us will be called on to be good Christian hosts than we are likely to become missionaries.
In Christian hospitality, we are called to be hosts to all people. We are to embrace both the humanity and the divinity of all and any human person we interact with. We are not only called to welcome those whose company we enjoy or those who resemble us most, we are called to welcome with compassion any one who calls on us.
And that often requires us to stretch our compassion muscles. I have been reminded of my own stretching over the past thirteen years I have spent at the monastery. On average, the monastery welcomes over 3000 guests a.
They come in all shapes and sizes. They come with different stories each. That allows for regular stretching of our hospitality muscles.
Recently, a transgendered woman, I’ll name Myriam, asked to see me in pastoral counseling. I had known her as a man 6 to 8 years ago when she was struggling with how and whether to start the transition to womanhood.
At that time, I had listened to her with compassionate intent while at the same time noting my discomfort with her predicament.
Through that initial conversation and further interactions and conversations with other transgendered guests, I have come to know of my prejudice and to pay attention to it so as not to speak or act out of it.
I came to realize that I wanted men and women to fit neatly at either end of the gender binary. I felt uncomfortable with people who were in-between, or even more so, with people who claimed the freedom to slide back and forth on that continuum.
I thought I was fine with transgender people until I came to realize that I wanted each one of them to conform neatly to my male/female dualism.
My recent conversation with Myriam showed me that she trusted me to accept her fully as whom she wishes to be. Our conversation only brushed briefly on issues of gender identity and expression. That was not what her heart was most concerned about.
Instead, I listened to Myriam’s impassioned care for the spiritual health of our churches. I listened to her care for her children and her concern for her wife.
Somehow, my shelving of my prejudice a few years ago had allowed me to see more fully the beauty of Myriam’s humanity and with more depth than my earlier stereotypes would have allowed me to see. And, as a result, I could see Myriam also as an image of the God I love.
Through my duty of hospitality, God has taught me to embrace more fully the beauty and multivalency of gender as a human phenomenon. In receiving Jesus in the person of Myriam, I received a blessing.
I tell you this story to encourage us to pay attention to be hospitable especially to those whose personhood challenges us in some way. We are easily hospitable to family, friends and those who resemble us. Let us discover the prophets and righteous ones also among those who differ from us.
Christian hospitality calls us to offer compassionate hospitality to all. That is how we can encounter Christ in those who come to us and recognize the Christ who welcomes them from within ourselves.
Come Lord Jesus, in whatever form you see fit to stretch our hearts. And let us be touched by the life and being of those who come to receive our hospitality. Amen.