"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

Saturday, March 17 2018

I saw a stranger yestere’en
I put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place;
And in the blessed name of the Triune
He blessed myself and my house,
My cattle and my dear ones.And the lark said in her song
Often, often, often,
Goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.
Often, often, often,
Goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.

Whether or not these words were first spoken by St. Brigid of Kildare, to whom they are sometimes attributed, they speak eloquently about Christian hospitality.  Gracious, grace-filled hospitality is a primary mark of Christian identity…not considered an obligation but rather a joy and a blessing.  The Greek word that is traditionally translated in English by ‘hospitality’ is philoxenia, literally “love of the strange”, with a mutual benefit attained for both host and guest. The goal is to mirror God’s hospitality so it is not just the provision of refreshments, not simply the act of welcoming but the quality of inclusiveness, the attitude of generosity, the gift of forgiveness, the vulnerability of sharing. Love from Christ and in Christ and for Christ motivates followers of Jesus to accept that ‘it’s not all about me’ and to reach out in practical, substantive, even sacrificial ways, to all who yearn for safety, shelter, companionship, health, food, peace…

Hebrews 13:2 tells us to welcome the stranger, “for thereby some have entertained angels unaware”.  In Celtic spirituality the one welcomed is the Christ, with recognition that the spirit of God resides within each human being. It presumes the good within others, the divine spark, and it necessitates an attitude of trust and openness, of mind and heart to those who are unknown and, likely, different from ourselves.  This is hospitality extended to all ‘strangers’ but especially to the poor and marginalized…as we learn to live out Matthew 25, “I was hungry and you gave me food, a stranger and you took me in…just as you did it to one of the least who are members of my family, you did it to me.”.

Question:  What is your reaction, physically, emotionally and spiritually, when you encounter a ‘street person’ in the market in Ottawa?

Photo: St. Brigid’s Cross of rushes, probably predating Christianity, is still regarded as a symbol of God’s protection over the home.

Recipe: Colcannon  It’s St. Patrick’s Day and this recipe, though not of  Irish Stew or Shepherd’s Pie grandeur, is wonderful comfort food. No amounts are specified.  Use what you have!

Potatoes, peeled, cubed, boiled until tender; bacon, fried and crumbled, save fat; ½ small cabbage, chopped; 1 onion, chopped; ½ cup milk; salt and pepper; butter; Fry cabbage and onion in bacon fat until soft; Mash cooked potatoes with milk, add seasonings; add bacon and  cabbage mixture.  To serve, mound colcannon on plate; make a well in the centre and put a little bit of butter in it.  Options: add other greens such as spinach, kale, parsley…