On the subject of angels - Scene IV

One of the things we know about Jesus and about the stories he told was that hospitality was important. The simple meal was spiritual. Unlike a number of the religious thinkers of his day it wasn’t so much what you ate but your attitude towards those you ate with, or to be precise those you refused to eat with. Jesus practised an open hospitality refusing to let the social, political, religious rules governing who should socialize with whom, govern the tables he sat at. In the minds of many he opened himself to disease, to heresy, to spiritual impurity, to violence, and to the damnation of his soul. It is hard to get our 21st century minds around the foreign parameters of 1st century Palestinian culture.

To follow Jesus is to be hospitable enough to be uncomfortable. Sometimes this means giving up your ‘seat’, your place of privilege, for a guest while you perch on the edge, uncomfortable and inconvenienced.

When I was a child my grandparents had a custom of always cooking enough so that one more person could sit at the meal table. You were never sure just who might turn up and need some food. There was always an angel, whether prince, peasant, or pauper, who might need entertaining.


On the subject of angels - Scene III

‘Goodness’ can be used to describe pleasure. A meal superbly cooked, served on the verandah, with the company of old friends and a slow sunset receives the accolade. As do other pleasurable pastimes and events.

Such goodness is a sensation. It is pleasure. Goodness is trust in friends. Goodness is letting the beauty of earth envelope our soul. Goodness affects our being. It is all around us and it is spiritual, or should we say ‘angelic’.

I have a friend who watches a lot of sport, of all varieties. He looks for those moments when the blend of fluidity, skill, and magic takes ones breathe away. Those moments for him give substance to the word good. They are wonderful to watch. For those of us who have participated in sport we also know those moments. They keep us turning up to practice. There is a grace of movement that affects us spiritually.

Yet there is a goodness that transcends these sensuous and often spiritual moments of pleasure, friendship, beauty, movement and skill. There is a goodness that seems to be just beyond us, offering a bigger all-encompassing horizon. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of this among us. Like a light that comes on only for a few seconds it leaves us with the sense of potential. In those glimpses we sense a bigger, more generous world where everything might still be possible. This is goodness that lifts our vision as we imagine what society could be.