Every time we welcome someone into our homes or circle of friends, it takes effort, even if they are the most appealing of persons. Sometimes it means setting aside some time so that the welcomed person is not alone. In other cases, it might mean changing the vibe or rhythm of the household. Every time a new person is included, things change.
This might be why we tend to like things to stay the way they are and we shy away from welcoming new people into our circle of trust and care. It might be even more difficult to welcome someone who seems to have nothing to offer but is only asking for something from you. Why should I do this if I am not getting anything out of it? Why would I upset the equilibrium of the status quo to welcome someone who seems to only take and never gives? The simple answer is because we are told to. Jesus did it and He asks us to do it. Hospitality and a welcoming spirit is the hallmark of a community who follows in the footsteps of Jesus. Or at least it should be!
What we notice in the reading from the Second Book of Kings is that Elisha is invited into an influential woman’s home. She has an eagerness for his company. They would eat and drink and they would enjoy each other’s company. Those initial steps of hospitality lead to an even greater invitation. She and her husband eventually offer not only a meal but also a place to stay and rest. Small choices of hospitality can lead to much greater things. We hear no mention of how they will be paid back or what they get in return, but they willingly open their doors and home to Elisha. These give us some hints about the meaning of the Gospel, “Whoever finds her life will lose it and whoever loses her life for my sake will find it.”
This woman of influence mentioned in 2 Kings is willing to lose some portion of her life. She takes the opportunity to welcome a prophet which can be an unpredictable choice. She shares a meal and the company of the prophet, and it’s not just a one-time invitation. Elisha comes to believe that he is welcome in her home and can make himself comfortable. She eventually brings her husband into these acts of hospitality and together they lose more of themselves for Elisha. The story tells us that their willingness to lose their lives bore fruit in their family. This is another story of the giver getting so much more when there is a willingness to lose life for the sake of another.
Is there a willingness on your part to lose your life for the sake of another? We can take for granted that we would do that for those we love and for those we have some responsibility toward. But as Jesus would say, “do not even the pagans do that. What is so noteworthy about that?” How about losing some of your life for the prophet in your life? Who is that? Who is the one or ones who need a place to eat, a room to rest in and a family to find a home with? How can that happen for you and your family? Have you ever had a conversation among yourselves about your willingness to lose life for the sake of another? You never know. You might find your life in losing it!