We tend to equate hospitality with parties and social gatherings or gracious resorts and expensive restaurants. To us hospitality is an industry, not a practice, one that summons Martha Stewart to mind more quickly than Jesus Christ. But to ancient Christians hospitality was a virtue, part of the love of neighbor and fundamental to being a person of the way. While contemporary Christians tend to equate morality with sexual ethics, our ancestors defined morality as welcoming the stranger
Unlike almost every other contested idea in early Christianity, including the nature of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity, the unanimous witness of the ancient fathers and mothers was that hospitality was the primary Christian virtue.
When reading this passage I can’t help but think about the health care “debate” going on right now in the U.S.. One so often hears of the inherent “Christian” nature of our country but it seems very strange that providing health care for all is a kind of blasphemy. When reading the gospels, it’s hard to find a sliver enthusiasm for the free market philosophy where it’s just tough shit if you can’t afford care.
The fact of the matter is that hard working people are denied basic health care in this country each and every day. We’ve failed as a society to be hospitable, be it privately or publicly.