Rules of the House

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In today’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42)  Jesus is welcomed into a small house in Bethany, near Jerusalem. We know this story, because we remember Martha and Mary – but notice that the story is about more than the two sisters; it’s also a story about hospitality.

In our first reading (Genesis 18:1-10 ), three travelers come to Abraham and Sarah’s tent in the desert.  And this story is about more than Abraham and Sarah;  it, too, is a story of hospitality.

These are the stories of our spiritual ancestors. And, as the stories were told again and again, the dwelling places – the house, the tent – became symbols of hospitality. We can find Abraham’s tent in the earliest art of the Christian church – with the three visitors an icon for the Holy Trinity, gathered in mutual love around Sarah’s table.  We can find Jesus with Martha and Mary, the Son of God sharing the intimacy of a family meal, in great paintings from the Renaissance.

The more traditional the society, the more rules there are for hospitality.  There are rules about food and drink; rules for men and women; rules for the family, and rules for visitors. But notice that in both of today’s stories at least one of the traditional rules is broken.


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Count the Cost


A Homily for St. Benedict’s Day – July 14, 2013

The Gospel for St. Benedict’s Day tells us to count the cost. Jesus tells his disciples, Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost? … You cannot become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”  (Luke 14:27f)

St. Benedict’s Rule tells members of the community to share everything.  Benedict looked to the earliest Christians for his guide to community life: All things should be the common possession of all, so no one presumes to call anything his own; distribution was made to each one as he had need. (Acts 4:32f)

In her book, Life Abundant, theologian Sallie McFague tells us love without economics is empty rhetoric.  She writes, We cannot love the world and everything in it unless we take economics with utter seriousness. 


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