Hospitality: The Feast of St. Matthew ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI
Reading 1:EPH 4:1=7,11=13
R Psalm: PS 19:2=3,4=5
Gospel: MT 9:9=13
Today we commemorate the Feast of St Matthew the Apostle.
Today’s Gospel reading of the call of Matthew to follow Jesus is fascinating and we can learn much from it that is very applicable to our lives today.
If we look at verse 9, Jesus is walking along when he comes to a tax collector named Matthew who was sat doing his job. Jesus gives him an invitation “to follow him”, and without even a second thought, gets up and immediately follows Jesus. A simple call and a simple and immediate response. There was something in that moment that motivated Matthew to follow Jesus. We don’t know what this was, but we do know that Jesus called and Matthew immediately answered that call.
As the story in today’s Gospel reading unfolds, there is a main point which I feel is very important. This being the Hospitality of Jesus. If we look at verse 10, Jesus was sat having dinner with his disciples and many tax collectors and sinners arrived and we’re welcomed and joined in this dinner. The lesson from this is that Our Lord Jesus is comfortably at home with sinners and with outcasts on all levels and offers all his hospitality.
This is an extremely important message and lesson to each of us, because it clearly shows that Jesus shares his hospitality with us regardless of who we are, of messes and failures we have made in our past or indeed our present circumstances. Jesus does not judge us nor condemns us, he shares himself with us and also invites us to share with him.
Hospitality and love is at the very heart of God’s relationship with us=an essential spiritual gift for any church and every child of God who wants to reflect God in the local community and even thoughout the world.
God in Jesus invited those on the margins of life without judgement and in the same way, we as children and servants of God are to invite people into the home of both our church and our lives also without judgement, following Our Lord’s example, so that we can share hospitality with them and encourage them to partake in the hospitality of Jesus by sharing themselves with us.
Our God is an hospitable God of love=and we as both his church and his children should ensure just as Jesus did, that everyone feels welcome and unturned. Too many churches and Christians sadly only have a tendency to mix with their own kind, or pass judgement on others, making them unwelcome, but Our Lord Jesus’ approach is the exact opposite to this and our approach should mirror the example of Jesus. Some churches and Christians only welcome other others on “conditions” =that they will change their behaviours to fit in with their expectations, for example: “You are welcome at our table =as long as you change and play by our rules”. But the hospitality that Jesus shows is radically different and is how we should be.
Jesus loves everyone, and nobody is asked to change to fulfill expectations and rules at his table. This is truly how we as servants of the Lord should be, following His example and not mankind’s prejudices and rules. We ought to be showing the same the same hospitality, love and acceptance just as our dear Lord Jesus does.
May the Lord bless you on this feast of St Matthew.
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