Today, (4th April) I read chapter 53 'The reception of guests'. Although in this time of pandemic we are unable to welcome guests to our homes or our churches, I was struck by the commentary given on this chapter by the Benedictine author Richard Frost. He asks us to imagine: treating very visitor to your home as if they were Christ; treating everyone in your workplace as if they were Christ; and welcoming every visitor to your church as if they were Christ. He goes on to quote the Benedictine scholar Esther de Waal who wrote: "Did we see Christ in them? Did they see Christ in us?" Good questions to ponder.
This coming Holy Week has much to say to us about seeing the Christ and not seeing him and this current time challenges us to seek the Christ in our neighbour and to reach out to them. If we can try to see the image of Christ in others we can hope that they might see him in us. Our neighbours are made in the image of God, not in our image and as such we share with each other that spark of the divine which unites us all. As we reach out to others and respond to kindness shown us, we unconsciously acknowledge the image of God in each other and our kinship.
We may not be able to physically welcome others into our homes or churches but we can give thanks to God for them and pray for them too. If anything this strange time seeks to remind us that we are all members of the family of God. We are all 'related' to each other through Christ and we can know thatt God loves each and everyone of us equally and without constraint.