Receiving a guest into our home doesn’t require so many things, says Pope Francis, as only one thing is necessary: listening to the guest, hearing the thoughts of his heart, so that he feels he is truly among family.
This was the Pope’s reflection today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Commenting on the Gospel of today from Luke, which recounts the story of Mary and Martha receiving Jesus in their home, the Holy Father spoke about the virtue of hospitality.
“In busying herself and doing things, Martha runs the risk of forgetting — and this is the problem — the presence of her guest, which in this case is Jesus,” the Pope explained. “She forgets the presence of her guest.”
The Holy Father said that a guest — any guest, not just Jesus — doesn’t need only to be served and fed. “Above all it is necessary that he is listened to,” he said.
With listening, a guest is welcomed as “a person, with his history, his heart rich in sentiments and thoughts, so that he might feel truly that he is among family.”
Failing to do this, the Pope said, is like treating the guest like a rock.
“A guest must be listened to,” Francis emphasized, adding, “Certainly, the answer Jesus gives Martha — when he tells her that only one thing is necessary — finds its full meaning in reference to hearing the word of Jesus himself, this word that enlightens and sustains all that we are and all that we do. If we are going to pray, for example, before a crucifix, and we talk and talk and talk and then we leave, we don’t listen to Jesus. We don’t allow him to speak to our hearts.”
Pope Francis said that in understanding hospitality in this way — with an emphasis on listening so as to respect the personhood of guests — we see that it is a human and Christian virtue, and one that “runs the risk of being left aside.”
There is an increasing number of guest houses and types of accommodations, he said, “but in these places, a true hospitality isn’t always lived out.”
Are the stories of the ill, the marginalized, the refugee, the migrant listened to, he asked.
“Even in one’s own house, among one’s own family, it’s easier to find service and care of various types than listening and welcome,” the Pope lamented.
“Today we are so busy and in such a hurry, with so many problems, some of which are unimportant, that we lack the capacity to listen. We are constantly busy and thus we don’t have time to listen,” he said.
The Pope then turned his reflection to questions: “You, husband, do you have time to listen to your wife? You, wife, do you have time to listen to your husband? You, parents, do you have time, time to lose so as to listen to your children, or your grandparents, the elderly?”
Grandparents, especially, he said, need to be heard.
“I ask you to learn to listen and dedicate more time to this,” the Pope concluded. “In the capacity to listen is the root of peace.”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-on-the-waning-art-of-hospitality/