17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 28, 2013)

Communion Hosts

This week’s Readings

The rule of hospitality in biblical times required that every guest, whether stranger or friend, be warmly welcomed, refreshed and fed with the best food and drink available no mater what time of day they showed up.

Jesus’ parable in Sunday’s Gospel shows a worst case scenario of what might happen: the family awakens, unbolts the door to receive the guest, washes the guest’s feet and the wife begins to prepare a meal. When she discovers that she has no bread to set before the guest, she asks her husband to go and get bread from a nearby family, who by now is also asleep with their door bolted shut. In a small village, it would be easy for the wife to know who had baked bread that day. Asking for bread from one’s neighbor was both a common occurrence and an expected favor. To refuse to give bread would bring shame because it was a sign of inhospitality.

However, the begging husband had to accept whatever the family could offer. If he was given sourdough instead of the hoped-for rye or pumpernickel, then sourdough was what was served to his guest. To reject what was offered was as great an insult as refusing to feed a guest.

Now when we go to ask, seek, knock, wouldn’t it be true that when we pray to God for favors or assistance, we’re hoping for a specific kind of “bread,” a specific kind of help? God will always help us, but the help might not be what we hoped for. God always gives us the best God can, and how ungrateful it is for us to bemoan what we receive.

In addition, many times what we ask for is something that would make God a bit less necessary and ourselves a bit more independent. That’s not the way life works: we are creatures, God is God. The more we gratefully realize our dependence on God for everything in life, the happier we will be.

Much love … many prayers!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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