A Christian home is incomplete without a Christ room

drawing by Fritz Eichenberg from Works of Mercy (Orbis Books)
above: drawing by Fritz Eichenberg from Works of Mercy (Orbis Books)

“I was a stranger,” Christ says, “and you took me in.” (Mt 25:35) And again, “In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40)

In every believer and brother, though they be least of all, Christ comes to you. Open your house, take them in. “Whoever receives a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward.”… These are the qualities that ought to be in those who welcome strangers: readiness, cheerfulness, liberality. For strangers feel abashed and ashamed, and unless their host shows real joy, they feel slighted and go away, and their being received in this way makes it worse than not to have received them.
Therefore set aside a room in your house to which Christ may come; say, “This is Christ’s room; this is set apart for him.” Even if it is very simple, he will not disdain it. Christ goes about “naked and a stranger”; he needs shelter: do not hesitate to give it to him.

Do not be lacking in compassion or be inhuman. You are earnest in worldly matters, do not be cold in spiritual matters…. You have a place set apart for your wagon, but none for Christ who is wandering by? Abraham received strangers in his own home (Gn 18); his wife took the place of a servant, the guests the place of masters. They did not know that they were receiving Christ, that they were receiving angels.

If Abraham had known it, he would have lavished his whole substance. But we, who know that we receive Christ, do not show as much zeal as he did, who thought that he was receiving mere men.

— St John Chrysostom
Homily 45 on the Acts of the Apostles; PG 60: 318-320

❖ In Communion / Summer 2010 / issue 57