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
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!