Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:44-47
When you host someone at your home for a meal, there are certain customs and hallmarks that make you a good host and make your home inviting. This differs from culture to culture, and even from region to region in the United States, but here are a few that I can think of: offering to take their coat, offering something to drink, or striking up conversation while you wait to eat so there is no uncomfortable silence. To offer these signs of care and welcome reinforces that your guest belongs in your home and you are glad they have come. Not to offer these signs of welcome and care would probably make your guest uncomfortable and indicate that at the very least you’re indifferent to their presence.
Jesus’ culture had customs of hospitality as well, and the story makes clear that Simon invited Jesus to his home without offering these customs. Jesus came to dinner yet received no water to wash his feet, no oil for his head, and no kiss in greeting. You have to wonder why Simon invited Jesus over, yet withheld hospitality from him when he arrived. It is hospitality in name only: an extended invitation without the grace or generosity of real hospitality.
We can easily shake our heads at Simon for being such a begrudging host, but how many times have we shown begrudging or ungenerous hospitality? Maybe it was a guest you really didn’t want to have at your home. Maybe it was how you received a new person at church. Maybe it was the lack of space you made for someone in a conversation. When it comes to hospitality and welcome, most of us have room to grow.
List some basic elements of hospitality. What makes you feel welcome at any kind of gathering? How do you make space for others to feel welcome? How can you become consistent in offering those things?
By Jessica Rust