“Abba James said, ‘It is better to receive hospitality than give it'” (Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p.42).
“Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, for He is going to say, ‘I came as a guest, and you received Me'” (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, Chapter 53, p.73).
I have experienced today the most amazing revelation. It began when I read the words of Abba James quoted above. As I spent time meditating on these words, I found myself drawn to the words in St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries. The words I was particularly drawn to were, “to receive hospitality..” and “to be received as Christ.”
Through these words, I felt the Holy Spirit disturbing my ego. When I think of receiving in hospitality, I place the entirety of the responsibility on myself. Everything is up to me to do to impress the guest by drawing attention to me. I might like to think that I am being so humble and doing the receiving. When I exercise hospitality with myself as the sole giver in the encounter, I become self-centered. I won’t let myself be disturbed or confirmed by God in the guest.
These words from Abba James and Saint Benedict, tell me that it is Christ in the other that is receiving me in hospitality. When I meditated on it in this way, my attention is no longer on myself exclusively. Now I have to open the whole of myself, let go of my ego, my need to control and decide; and let Christ in the guest receive me. Christ becomes my center, as I place myself in Jesus’ care. Christ comes to me in the guest to receive me, so that I may serve Him in the other. Christ comes and receives me not only to help me with the things in my life that need conversion, but to bring me conversion by affirming His love for me; to live with thanksgiving the gifts God gives me. I can give myself over to Contemplative Prayer and experience the Mysticism of knowing and viewing myself from God’s perspective. This is what Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism are essentially about.
As we are celebrating the Presentation of Christ in the Temple today; it is a good idea to spend some time in solitude and silence. As we do, perhaps we need to see Jesus receiving us as the guest, and offering Himself for us. I believe that this is the “Light” that Simeon saw as this Jesus whom he waited for his entire life finally came to present Himself to God. Christ came and brought His Light to receive our human condition and transform the darkness into the Light of God’s manifestation.
Are you open to being received by Jesus today?
Peace be with all who enter here.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS
See: The Community of Solitude
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