Hospitality is a very important social virtue. This virtue deals with  how to prepare for and to receive a guest or guests into one’s home. For the Jewish people, especially at the time of Jesus, this virtue was one of the most important! Lack of hospitality was considered a major offense!

Sweeping, cleaning, dusting, spraying, disinfecting—all of this and more  are preparatory gestures to receiving the guest.

Upon arrival, a warm greeting, an embrace, snacks, a drink, a comfortable sofa , and engaging conversation make up the details of the practice of the virtue of hospitality. 

Both Mary and Martha in Bethany practiced hospitality towards Jesus; however, each in a different way. Martha, concerned about the meal-preparation , the order of the house and the externals whipped herself up into  a frenzy.  She wanted it all to be perfect to receive Jesus.  On the other hand, Mary, sat at the feet of Jesus  and listened to Jesus, conversed with Him and simply loved Jesus, as their “Favorite Guest”.

Sacramentally, how can we apply this concept of “welcoming Jesus” as “Guest” into our homes?  Jesus desires ardently to come to visit our homes, our hearts, our souls, every time He become present in Holy Mass and Holy Communion.  Jesus desires a warm welcome into our souls, by means of the proper reception of Holy Communion.

There is no greater action/ gesture under the heavens that the human person can accomplish than to receive Jesus,  “The Sacramental Guest” into our hearts at the moment of Holy Communion.

Hospitality has varying degrees of warmth and reception. A guest could arrive at a home and the door is locked, or the reception is cold, or the reception can be good, better or best!   By the same token, Jesus as “The Sacramental Guest of the Soul” can be rejected, poorly received, received well, or received with the best of dispositions. The purpose of this article is to aim for the best reception of Jesus into our hearts in Holy Communion.

In the Sacristy of the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s nuns, there is a plack on the wall, in which these words are inscribed:  “Priest, man of God, say this Mass as if it were your 1st Mass, last Mass, and only Mass.”  Why not apply this  exhortation to the priest to each and every one of us every time we go to Mass.  “Receive this Communion (Jesus the Divine Guest of your soul) as if it were the 1st time, the last time, and the only time.”

The graces that are received from the Sacrament depend on the interior disposition of the Communicant.   The better the disposition, then the more abundant the graces.  An ever present danger, especially when Mass and Holy Communion have abundant availability, is to fall into the sad pitfall of taking the Lord for granted. Face it, the more rare the stone is---like diamond, emerald, ruby--- the more highly we appreciate it. Common rock or stone we do not appreciate because of the abundance.

If we had to travel thousands of miles, and through perilous and life-threatening situations, and to the point of having to risk our lives for one Mass and one Holy Communion, then obviously we would appreciate the “Gift” and the meeting of this “Guest” immensely more!

Call to mind the sacrifices and sufferings of these followers of Christ so as to have access  and receive the “Divine Guest” into their souls! How they would actually sacrifice their lives for the cause and for the Person of Jesus present in Holy Mass and in Holy Communion!

The early Roman martyrs, who risked their lives, celebrating the Mass and receiving Holy Communion in the catacombs.  St. Tarcissus, who died to defend the Most Blessed Sacrament from being desecrated.  

St. Margaret Clitherow, who hid priests in her home along with priestly vestments and liturgical vessels and ornaments, so that on the sly and behind the backs of the English police and authorities, the Mass could be celebrated and the “English catholics in hiding” could receive “Jesus, there Guest” into their hearts!

The Cristeros in Mexico, many of whom  suffered martyrdom, many had an ardent faith and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, but also a deep faith in Jesus present in Holy Mass and Holy Communion. Blessed Miguel Pro had to disguise himself as plummer, mechanic, businessman and many other tricks, especially so that he could offer to the suffering Mexican people the “Bread of Life” so that they could receive Jesus as the dear “Guest” into their souls.

Finally, one of the youngest of all saints,  “Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez del Rios, longed to receive Jesus as “The sweet Guest of his soul”.  This 14 year old martyr, after having been incarcerated, tortured, coerced into denying Christ as King, was finally martyred!  Many were unaware of this  young martyrs’ great love for Jesus truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

As Jose Luis patiently awaited his martyrdom, by praying the most Holy Rosary and singing songs to Our Lady of Guadalupe, relatives would smuggle food into him for sustenance. However, of primary importance in the boy’s having strength to suffer the tortures of his upcoming  martyrdom, his uncle, Father Ignacio, a priest, would consecrate a Host and hide it in the midst of the other  bits of food. Consequently, Jose Luis was able to receive Holy Communion often, shortly before he died.

His love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, his love for Christ the King, his love for the truth and his catholic faith, but especially his faith, love and devotion towards Jesus, “The Guest of his soul” armored and fortified him with the strength to acclaim courageously and to the end:  “Viva Cristo Rey!!!” Beaten with sticks, gashed with machetes, insulted viciously with sarcasm and hatred and finally shot in the head, Jose Luis’ last gesture was to draw with his finger the cross in the dirt, as his blood dripped into the cross! It was the Body and Blood of Jesus that fortified Blessed Jose Luis to die the death of a martyr . He who received Jesus as guest in his soul in Holy Communion, upon death was received by Jesus into his Heavenly home as permanent guest!