“You also have the example of how the widow of Zarephath gave hospitality to the Prophet (cf. 1 Kings 17:9-16). If you have only bread, salt or water, you can still meet the dues of hospitality. Even if you do not have these, but make the stranger welcome and say something helpful, you will not be failing in hospitality; for ‘is not a word better than a gift?’ (Eccles. 18:17). This is the view you should take of hospitality”
Evagrios the Solitary
Outline Teaching on Asceticism and Stillness
in the Solitary Life
Philokalia Volume 1
How well do Christians welcome those we meet in our churches and communities? The answer to this question lies in how we understand Christian hospitality and scripture’s recurring theme to welcome the neighbor, foreigner, or stranger. The three of the great law codes of the Hebrew Bible in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy contain the same command regarding the treatment of the stranger. “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:33-34) Also, you find commands in the Gospels with respect to how we love our neighbor and in several of Paul’s letters, most notably Hebrews where we are challenged “to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”. (13:2)
Evagrios the Solitary lived in the desert in 340 AD and there are many accounts of how Evagrios welcomed people into his desert community. In his writings, Evagrios highlights some of the different forms hospitality may embody through either actual “stuff’ or through word. Each way is just as important as the other. Evagrios understood the scriptural precedent to extend hospitality to those we do not know. He influenced many monasteries to adopt this practice as a foundation of their ministry.
This week I invite us to consider the ways we can be more hospitable in the different areas of our life. Where do we shut people out based on preconceived notions about who they are? Where in our life can we be more hospitable but are overwhelmed by the complexity of doing it? Where do we not want to be hospitable, and why?