Summer days offer fine opportunities to welcome family and good friends to our backyard for a barbecue or perhaps a more festive birthday feast.   Even a simple meal involves a good bit of preparation which eats away at the time I want to spend sharing with guests.  How do I manage both?

Today we meet Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus and dear friends of Jesus.  These two good women can be viewed as polarities for “doing good works” and/or simply “being in God’s presence.”  They also offer us practical lessons in hospitality that necessarily engages both our hands and our hearts.

The hospitality of Abraham and Sarah in today’s first reading offers a parallel image of gracious welcome and care towards three strangers who show up at their tent.   After Sarah prepares and serves them a sumptuous feast, one of the strangers tells the couple that Sarah will give birth to a son.  Quite an amazing reward for notable hospitality towards total strangers!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team