The Benedictine monks have this maxim – “Hospes venit, Christus venit” – which means, when a guest comes, Christ comes. In other words, to welcome a guest is to welcome Christ. I was thinking of this maxim while reading the 24th Chapter of Saint Luke on the encounter between Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was quite hilarious that the disciples did not recognize Jesus and thought of him as a stranger. It was even more humorous to me that while unable to recognize Jesus, they were all the while talking to Jesus about Jesus. It took them up till when they approached Emmaus, when he had spent time with them and broke bread with them to recognize him.
This encounter of the disciples with Jesus heightens our awareness to the fact of the possibility of meeting our Lord through hospitality. It is true that our God lives in unapproachable light. Indeed, the Prophet Isaiah tell us that the height of our God is so sublime and his ways above our ways. Yet, the same Lord informed us that when he comes in glory, he will be easily recognized, identified, and visited in the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned. In other words, even though the height of our God is so sublime, we cannot still relegate him to such a sublime height altogether that it becomes impossible to approach him in his other less sublime heights like in the lowliness of the sick and the suffering. Our ability to recognize him cannot just stop at the joy of seeing the scars on his hands and feet after his resurrection without equally recognizing him in the scars of the humiliation, abuse, and neglect of the ones who suffer or allow the nobility and humanity of those who are suffering become concealed by the scars, wrinkles, and welt of their sufferings.
I think that the greatest test of the truth of our faith lies in this fact. I think it is here to be precise, that we have the opportunity of making the Easter joy a permanent feature of our lives as believers and a cause for joy for others and especially those who will through us get to an experience of the joy that Christianity brings. I believe that our Christianity and Spirituality becomes more meaningful when it goes beyond just the recognition of God in the grandeur of his greatness, but as well when it recognizes his greatness in the splendor of his smallness, especially when that smallness commands within it, a grandeur of significance.
Fr. Louis Chijioke