What does it mean for you to be at home in God’s Presence? How does your faith enable you to enjoy God’s welcoming hospitality? And how does it teach you to extend that hospitality to others in Christ’s name? These are the questions that are raised by this week’s readings. Among the Scriptures that are set for this Sunday are two passages from the Gospel of John. In one, Jesus teaches the disciples that, when he leaves them, this will make it possible for them to receive God’s Spirit, who will make a home within them. Once again, Jesus offers a kind of “upside-down” hospitality – as God makes God’s home within us (enjoying our hospitality, in a sense), so we are welcomed into God’s life and embraced by God’s hospitality. In the second reading Jesus heals a paralysed man on the Sabbath, which generates some offense from the religious leaders. In so doing, Jesus proclaims that bringing life – welcoming people into God’s restoring love – is far more important than legalistic “rightness”.

The challenge of such readings is that we must face our own capacity for hospitality. Inevitably there will be those whom we would wish to exclude. In the community of faith there are many debates about whether inclusivity is more important than purity, particularly as it relates to certain issues of doctrine or morality. Yet, as soon as we realise that our welcome into God’s grace is pure gift, and not because of our worthiness or anything we have done to deserve it, we must recognise that God’s calls us to the same radically scandalous hospitality.

This week we will be challenged to welcome all – especially those who do not deserve it.

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