Earlier this week, new students walked on campus and started their college career.

As I drove by the campus map, students were gathered, trying to locate the buildings where their first classes will be held.

I found myself reflecting on my first day, 17 years ago. I spent the day before with a trial run, as my sister who had a better sense of direction, showing me the way to each building. St. John’s was a decent size campus, but more than enough for me.

My favorite memory was walking by the cafeteria where some smiling employees offered free pancakes.

A simple gesture made me feel at home and welcomed. It was hospitality. It was also the official start of “my freshmen 15.”

All these years, and pounds, later, I reflect on my role now on the other side of the welcome. I wonder how I can make a difference in the lives of the lost, and confused students who walk in circles with their head down and a bit confused.

In a larger context, how can we be hospitable to those who are suffering. From refugees to incoming freshmen, to the elderly to the child searching for a mentor, there is no shortage of those who could use hospitality.

I was moved yesterday by a colleague in youth ministry who lives in Texas. He offered his home to any Facebook friends who may be impacted by the storm.

I have a good number of Facebook friends, including some who I have to spend time remembering who they are and how I know them. Would I offer a similar invitation so freely?

I am challenged by this radical hospitality. I am moved by the Gospel message so truly lived.

In a divided world, where the negative and loudest gets the lead story, let’s continue to do the small things, rooted in love.


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