A Les Miserables Description of Hospitality

valjeanIrony. We have worked so hard at making our church services welcoming and friendly yet our homes have become bunkers whereby we attempt to shield ourselves from the concerns of the world. Until this changes we will make little impact in our culture for the kingdom of God.

With that said, I was completely blown away with this powerful description of hospitality while reading Victor Hugo’s book, Les Miserables.

“Monsieur Cure,” said the man, “you are good: you don’t despise me. You take me into your house; you light your candles for me, and I haven’t hid from you where I come from, and how miserable I am.

The bishop, who was sitting near him, touched his hand gently and said: “You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house; it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome. And do not thank me; do not tell me that I take you into my house. This is the home of no man, except him who needs asylum. I tell you, who are a traveler, that you are more at home here than I; whatever is here is yours. What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it.

The man opened his eyes in astonishment:

“Really? You knew my name?”

“Yes,” answered the bishop, “your name is my brother.”

2 comments

  1. I think there is a sense in which all people are “family”. This certainly isn’t the same as the family of God and what Scripture means when referencing “brother”. However, if we consider God the Father as the Creator of all, then their could be a helpful, nuanced way of seeing people as “family”. With God as our Dad, all people are our brothers and sisters – they just haven’t found reconciliation with Dad yet. So they are family but not part of the family of God.

    I like this distinction because it helps correct my sinful tendency towards think of “us” verses “them”. We are all in need of the gospel for reconciliation to Dad and to one another. We ought to pursue others as if they are family members that just haven’t recognized the grace shown them in the gospel, rather than as outsiders needing more grace than us.

    Liked by 1 person

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