The chapter that I found most striking lately was the one on the reception of guests.
In this chapter, St. Benedict instructs us to welcome guests as Christ. He writes, “Christ is to be adored in them.” Many aspects of the Rule and Chittister’s commentary are very countercultural; this lesson on hospitality runs counter to the expectations of our society, and is a very necessary reminder for us today.
The ministry centre at Renison is one place where I see this virtue of hospitality lived out. When inviting a friend of mine who takes many classes at Renison I first had to convince him that he did not have to pay for the coffee, and that he would not be cheating the ministry centre because he is already a Christian and therefore cannot even be evangelized as payment for the hospitality. There are very few places, I think, where someone is welcome out of pure hospitality, not for any kind of exchange.
The most challenging part of the chapter for me is St. Benedicts admonition to be especially hospitable to the poor “because in them more particularly Christ is received”. I am not quite sure how to go about doing this, but I feel that I should begin. I welcome any suggestions for how we can be hospitable to the poor, both as individuals and as a community.