Few people have the skill and patient endurance to welcome others as their primary ministerial role. When I was a boy, welcoming visitors was an especially important element in my home if you wanted to live there in peace. Although we did not have a television when I was young, we did have a radio and it often played in the background as we went about our daily chores and life. If, however, someone knocked on our apartment door, the radio was turned off immediately. There could be no distraction from welcoming whoever visited, even if it was a salesperson.
St Conrad of Parzham, the Capuchin saint who is patron of the friary where I live, is often pictured with a ring of keys in his hand or on cord that encircles our Capuchin habit. Conrad spend almost his entire life as a porter, the friar who responds to the front door bell. It was Conrad's task to welcome any and every visitor with the compassion of Jesus. Whether it was a beggar asking for food, a troubled wife needing to talk for a few minutes, or a donor wanting to give the friars something to help them live and serve the church, Conrad welcomed them all. It was his only job, and he did it with such reverence for those who came to the front door of the friary that the entire town where he lived knew him and knew of his gentle person and presence to everyone without regard for power, wealth or prestige. Everyone was equal to Conrad.
When we welcome others with delight and warmth, especially those with whom we struggle, we change their lives and ours. It is a simple but very difficult role, but when we do it for the glory of God, God's name is announced with joy and hope.
Today, welcome the first person you meet for the glory of God.
Have you known people whose warm welcome of all changed people's lives?