Rodriguez, saint of hospitality

Happy Feast Day of St Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ! Rodriguez is a wonderful saint from the 16th century. After experiencing much death in his family, including the loss of his children and wife, Rodriguez applied to be a Jesuit. Due to his lack of education, he did not seem to be the “right” kind of candidate but was eventually accepted as a Jesuit brother. He spent his time as a Jesuit welcoming others, working as a porter. Later, however, he was an often consulted spiritual advisor, not due to an intellectual education but for his spiritual wisdom. Following in the larger monastic tradition of welcoming others as if they were Christ himself, Rodriguez saw God in others and expressed this through kind hospitality.

Rodriguez’s example reminds us that when we welcome others into our homes, offices, or communities, we also may be greeting the hidden Christ, in disguise. Receptivity, hospitality, and kindness are powerful although they do not display power in its usual sense. To receive another with love is also to recognize him or her at a deeper level, a level at which God resides. Rodriguez saw that Christ is present in all our loving relationships, whether with those who are most near and dear to us, or those we are meeting for the first time. We also can enact this same care and hospitality for others, and in “opening the door” to others, find that the door to Christ is opened up for us, too.