A man attending a crowded Church service refused to take off his hat when asked to do so by the ushers. Others also asked him to remove his hat, but he remained obstinate. The preacher was perturbed, too, and waited for the man after the service.

He told the man that the Church was quite happy to have him as a guest, and invited him to join the Church, but he explained the traditional decorum regarding men’s hats and said, “I hope you will conform to that practice in the future.”

“Thank you,” said the man. “And thank you for taking time to talk to me. It is good of you to invite me to join the congregation. In fact, I joined it three years ago and have been coming regularly ever since, but today is the first time that anyone paid attention to me.

After being an unknown for three years, today, by simply keeping my hat on, I have had the pleasure of talking with the ushers, several of the congregants and you. Thanks!”

Our Scripture for this Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is about welcoming – about hospitality. It is about noticing the other and being attentive to the other.

“Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step toward dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.”

In our first reading, Abraham and Sarah go out of their way to entertain the stranger, and they receive God’s blessing. In the Gospel, Martha and Mary receive Jesus in their home at Bethany, each in her own characteristic way.

Fr. Joseph Dovari