"One day as Elisha was on his way to Shunem, a woman of rank who lived there pressed him to stay and eat there. After this he always broke his journey for a meal when he passed that way. She said to her husband, ‘Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God. Let us build him a small room on the roof, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there.’"
"Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward."
While reading the first reading and the gospel verse that relates to this, my first thought was of the welcome given to the three missionary teams who were with us over the last two weeks. They were very grateful for being hosted in our houses and being fed by our culinary people.
In all cases it was a win win situation. Those hosting and those who were hosted benefitted from the experience.
The prophet being welcomed in the first reading allows me to think of myself as well. Not that I am a holy man, but that I, being a man of God, have been welcomed by many of you because of God.
I have been among you for four years. It was a journey. First I had problems with the language. Problems to understand and to be understood. It was a problematic thing for a time to know each other. I remember the first greetings: "Hello, how long are you going to stay here?" Not that people didn't want me, but after three priests lasting less than two years for many it was not easy to invest in a relationship with a new priest.
Then I remember the many opportunities to meet people and to become friends with them. I have been welcomed here by you. And so I have seen God present, at work, in this place.
What did I see? To belong to Christ and to the Church is really the key to be happy. A place where joy prevails, where sorrow can be helped, where sin is forgiven, where reconciliation is possible, where family can be extended, where life finds a meaning. Here there is place for everyone. Here is God.
I would like to advise you to be open to Fr Liam Cumins, the next parish priest. Don't wait too long to trust him. Follow Pope Francis and Bishop Philip. They can appear to be different in style, but actually they are very similar. They are holy people, very human and very sound. They love Christ and serve the People of God.
Last but not least: Confession and Mass are huge sources of life. Welcome the sacraments where God welcomes you. Be faithful to the sacraments and you will grow, whatever happens in life. Your children face life being certain of your love. This makes the difference. We are to be like children. Frequenting God’s things we will face life in a different way too.