St. Silouan the Athonite Mission Parish

Priest Musings

Entertaining Angels -2016
by Fr Roberto Ubertino

"Welcome one another” St Paul reminds us.

Every week we have some new person coming to the parish for liturgy on Sunday and if someone does not make them feel welcome after the liturgy they will leave...you have to be a very brave person to stay in a group where you don't know anyone and no one is talking to you"

As I listened to this reflection of one of the youth of our parish I realized that something new was being asked of all of us. Up to now, "the welcome" would often happen organically, almost without effort. The size of our humble growing community makes it now more difficult for a "stranger" to feel welcome: unless we all make it our intention to be a welcoming parish.

Some in the parish will try a few new things to help with this desire that will facilitate, during the agape meal, the meeting of people. All of us have come here and have at some point felt welcome, otherwise we would not be reading these musings. Now it is the turn of each of us to find ways to welcome and receive others at our table. It is understandable that after liturgy one just wants to sit back relax with friends. Again, as St Paul reminds us, the "love of Christ urges us" to reach out. To reach out to the person who may be eating by themselves surrounded by lively conversations. Just recently I learned of a person who attended our parish for almost a year without any one asking this person anything. As clergy we understand that this time after the liturgy is not for ourselves but for the community. But everyone can make a new person welcome. Sometimes I hear, only many weeks later, that a new person has been trying to talk to me. The simple truth is that a person will feel more welcome by a simple hello and conversation with a parishioner than a theological discussion with the priest. If people have not been welcomed, simply and personally, chances are they won't have theological discussions with the priest.

Welcoming the one stranger is not a duty or a chore, or even less a moral obligation, but rather as St Paul reminds us a blessing because experience has proven that some, in practising hospitality, have entertained angels.

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