IS 25: 6-10A
PS 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
MT 15: 29-37
On August 19, instead of driving four hours on I-64 West from my home in Louisville to my home at SLU, I tearfully said goodbye to my parents and little sister at the Louisville airport. Two planes, a taxi, two trains, and thirty hours later, I arrived in the small German town of Kandern. Theresa, my lovely friend and travel companion, and I hauled our extremely heavy and large suitcases to the entrance of the train station and sat down on the curb. “What are we going to do if they don’t show up?” I asked Theresa as I realized that neither of us had cell service. “They” referred to a friend of a friend of a friend who we were supposed to be staying with during our two-week German adventure before settling down in Madrid for the semester.
Exhausted and overwhelmed, we sat together fairly quietly for what seemed like forever as we watched car after car pull into the parking lot only to pull out again minutes later. I was just starting to panic when a navy blue car suddenly appeared down the road, pulled into the parking lot, and stopped directly in front of Theresa and me. “You must be Sarah and Theresa! Hello and welcome to Germany! We’re Steve and Dawn Liberti!” Suddenly, all my anxiety disappeared as I was embraced by two complete strangers in a town 4,000 miles away from my homes.
A short drive later, Theresa and I were walking into the Libertis' beautiful home when I was suddenly engulfed by an incredible, overpowering smell. “I hope you’re hungry!” Steve said. We’ve got a German feast for you tonight!” For the next two hours, Theresa and sat around the outdoor table eating three kinds of bratwursts and a potato and carrot dish, sipping on a Radler, and sharing life stories and hopes with strangers who were quickly becoming friends.
While there have been many beautiful moments that have touched my heart during my semester in Europe, my first two weeks were some of the most memorable and meaningful as the Libertis welcomed us with the radical hospitality that Jesus preaches about and practices throughout the Gospel. In today’s reading, Matthew 15:29-37, we hear the familiar story of Jesus feeding the masses with seven loaves of bread “and a few fish.” In the story, Jesus surrounds himself with people of privilege and people who are marginalized and because he doesn’t want to send anyone away hungry, Jesus blesses and breaks the seven loaves of bread that the disciples have gathered. The miracle of this story is not some magical increase in the amount of food, but that by sharing a meal together as a community, every person is able to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually satisfied. As this Advent season continues, and we gather together with our friends and family, may we remember to show all of our brothers and sisters the same radical hospitality that Jesus showed the crowd and that the Libertis showed me.
Sarah Nash is a junior studying Sociology and American Studies with a minor in Urban Poverty Studies.