Games are a great opportunity for casual entertaining.
I’ve swept the first fallen leaves from my back porch and seen the first school buses of the academic year full of children. These signs can only mean one thing: it’s the beginning of football season.
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t care about the sport. In fact, the rare moments where I do sit and watch a game, I look at the screen without being able to follow the action (besides the cheering that signals a TD). However, I do get excited about football season. Let me tell you why.
Hospitality. Football games offer us a casual opportunity to host friends, new and old, as well as being able to enjoy the hospitality of others.
Football games are often the backdrop for relaxing with friends, extending an invitation to someone we’d like to get to know better and providing a no-stress environment in which to enjoy the company of others and to share our home and family with them .
It should come as no surprise that hospitality has a long history in Biblical culture. Welcoming others is one simple way that we affirm each person’s dignity and value. In Biblical times, this often took the form of providing food, drink and shelter to sojourners. The Book of Hebrews reminds us to "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb. 13:1-2).
We know, of course, that Jesus inherited and embraced this part of His Jewish heritage. Who could forget that His first miracle was turning water into wine so that the bride and groom could be generous to their guests? I suppose it wouldn’t be completely tongue-in-cheek to suggest that—when you’re making a beer run before a big game and are considering whether or not to pick up an extra 6-pack for potential guests—you ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”
Hospitality is truly a way to show the love of Christ to others. The Rule of St. Benedict dictates that Benedictines treat each guest like Christ Himself. I saw this Christian love in action when friends and I visited a Benedictine monastery in Ireland some years ago. We were greeted by a guest master, put up in simple but comfortable rooms and shown where to find hot tea at any time of the day.
We met a variety of people during our stay with the Irish monks, only a few of them Catholic, but all of them very appreciative of the warm and generous spirit of the Benedictines. We were invited to join the Benedictines in praying the Liturgy of the Hours (an invitation we accepted), but it certainly was not a requirement for our stay.
We can be witnesses to the joy of Christian life, not only through what we say, but how we enjoy the everyday pleasures of life and share them with others. Can you remember a time when you visited someone’s home and were truly welcomed? Those moments can remind guests that they are valued. Anyone can be hospitable, but as Christians we are particularly called to be welcoming to our neighbors. As Pope Francis prayed, “May our Christian communities really be places of hospitality, listening and communion!”
As you gear up to watch your team throughout this football season, consider inviting others to share in the pastime. Step outside of your comfort zone and ask the new couple at the parish if they’d like to stop by for some burgers and a game. See if a coworker has weekend plans or if he or she would like to meet your family and cheer on their college team. You never know who might really benefit from a welcoming invitation, genuine hospitality and a good dose of Christian joy.
Caitlin Bootsmais the editor of Human Life International’s Truth and Charity Forum (truthandcharityforum.com) as well as the Communications Director for Fuzati, Inc., a Catholic marketing company. Mrs. Bootsma received a Licentiate in Catholic Social Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome as well as a Master’s of Systematic Theology from Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and two sons.