One day, many years ago, my mother announced we would invite some “lonely people” to dine with us on Thanksgiving. This news startled my father, my sister, and me because my mother NEVER entertained guests. We lived in west Texas at the time, not near family, and we were not accustomed to entertaining people in our home.
Mom said we would be having two professors from the University where she worked who were from foreign countries and a friend who had just broken up an engagement with his fiance’ (my mother was unaware at the time that our friend was dying of AIDS). We agreed with a bit of fear and trepidation. In the end, the dinner was a success and all of us lonely people had enjoyed ourselves.
In light of today’s gospel reading, our Thanksgiving dinner party for the “lonely people” takes on a new meaning. My mother’s response to the gospel wasn’t grand. However, it was her willingness to throw a banquet without expectations that may have touched the hearts of her guests and caused all of us to feel blessed.
Today we remember the feast of St. Charles Borromeo. While St. Charles grew up in a wealthy, aristocratic, Italian family and enjoyed that grand life, he was not immune to the needs of the poor. During the Milan plague, he sold his household furniture, even his bed, to aid the sick and needy. While selling household furniture to help the poor and preparing a dinner for the lonely appear simple, they make a difference.
What can we do today to ease the suffering of others without expectation? Is there someone’s name that arises when we pray? Do we notice the sadness in someone but turn away? God, give us courage to do your will!
—Sharron Deax Hanisch earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology). She is the mother of four children and a teacher at the School of Lectio Divina, St. Joseph Monastery, Tulsa, OK