A Graduate School of Theology and Ministry

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

July 17, 2022

Lectionary 108:

Gen 18:1-10a

Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 5

Col 1:24-28

Luke 10:38-42


Possible preaching themes:


  • Gift of hospitality
  • Work and self-identity
  • Anxiety and stress


Possible scientific resources:





Homily outline: combining themes of “hospitality” and “anxiety”


  • The lived reality of anxiety
    • Anxiety is on the rise
    • Evidence documents how much anxiety levels increased during the COVID pandemic.
    • Although the pandemic is leveling off, anxiety levels are elevated because of multiple factors
      • financial stress
      • jobs
      • personal relationships
      • international instability
      • social unrest and polarization
    • While sources of stress can differ from individual to individual
      • nonetheless stress and anxiety manifest themselves across our population
    • Detrimental physical and psychological effects of stress are well document
      • Robert Sapolsky’s celebrated Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers – abbreviated as a YouTube lecture – well documents how stress negatively impacts our physical and mental health


  • The upside of anxiety
    • Researchers have searched for an “upside” to anxiety, wondering how it can be a positive rather than negative emotion
    • Psychologist Wendy Suzuki believes anxiety can be productive if we get it back to the right levels
    • She argues that anxiety provides information about what we appreciate and what we value; this is where “the good anxiety lives”
    • It can actually be a source of productivity, as it can often be resolved with action: stress gets our muscles active to do something


  • What about hospitality?
    • Aren’t the first reading and today’s gospel more about hospitality?
      • Why put the focus on stress or anxiety?
    • Yet those readings show a link between hospitality and stress
      • Notice how Abraham “runs” to greet his guests, “hastens” to Sarah to make bread, runs to the herd to pick out a steer and has a servant “quickly” prepare it?
      • The gospel is more concise but has a resonant scenario with Martha welcoming Jesus and “burdened with much serving”
    • Hosting others can be very stressful particularly because of the level of intimacy it presumes
    • Hospitality is more than generosity
      • Generosity is a relatively liberal attitude toward giving one’s own resources
        • It can include anonymous transactions
        • And has no necessary element of welcome
      • Conversely hospitality is a face-to-face phenomenon that does not allow for anonymity
        • It requires welcoming a guest into the host’s own territory
        • Thus more intimate and riskier


  • Hospitality as boundary breaking activity
    • Hosting is both risky and potentially life-giving
    • The Genesis story reveals Abraham’s combination of generosity and hospitality
      • He gives freely of his resources, both material and personal
      • His generous hospitality resulted in new life – the gift of a son
    • Martha in the gospel appears to be generous
      • She is responsible for preparing and serving the food (Greek: diakonia) to their guest
      • But Mary is the one who seems hospitable; engaging in intimacy with Jesus
      • hospitality is valued here over generosity
    • We might not imagine Jesus as a host in the gospels
      • But he is often portrayed as such:
        • In the six stories feeding the multitudes
        • across the myriad of dining tales embedded in the gospels
        • with the disciples at the Last Supper and on the shore of the sea of Tiberias (John 21)
      • More metaphorically, he invites “multitudes” into the spiritual home of his life and vision of God’s reign
        • Chosen apostles and Samaritan divorcees (John 4)
        • Pharisees like Nicodemus (John 3), tax collectors like Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and throngs on a Galilean hillside (Matt 5)
      • Rather than hospitality as colonization, Jesus’ generous hospitality is centripetal, boundary breaking and liberating
        • Risking intimacy with the unclean and outcasts
        • Upsetting authorities who sanitize their generosity, devoid of interpersonal encounter
        • Revealing something new about the very hospitality of God
        • In his hospitality, Jesus gives new life and risks death
        • Such hospitality is placed at the very center of Jesus’ vision of ultimate judgment (Matt 25:35)


  • Eucharist missions us into the hospitality of God
    • God in Christ through the Spirit sets the table, breaks the Word and the Bread for us each Sunday
    • While it doesn’t raise God’s blood pressure, eucharist is always a divine risk, a holy gamble
      • Inviting sinners into unspeakable intimacy
    • However, the expectations of eucharist might raise our blood pressure
      • its gospel of radical inclusion
      • call to do justice echoing through today’s Psalm
      • mission to move beyond generosity and embrace the hospitality of Jesus
    • This is “good anxiety” because it is for the common good
    • Such “spiritual stress” is resolved with “action,” providing a Gospel “to do list”
    • As today’s Psalm reminds us: “One who does these things shall never be disturbed”

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