Speaking about hospitality in a homily on June 2, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II shared the following message:
“Like the disciples of Emmaus, believers, supported by the living presence of the risen Christ, become in turn the traveling companions of their brothers and sisters in trouble, offering them the word that rekindles hospitality in their hearts. With them they break the bread of friendship, brotherhood, and mutual help.”
This message speaks not just to being neighborly and hospitable to people who we might come into contact with, but also people whom we serve. For those who work in the hospitality industry (hotels, theme parks, casinos, tourism destinations, etcetera), it can be challenging to work so closely with such a wide range of people—and to account for their diverse needs and wants. You may be one of those who work in the hospitality industry, or you may not be. Either way, as Catholics it is our duty to become the companions of all of our brothers and sisters, and that includes treating everyone with hospitality and mutual respect by putting our faith into action as we serve them.
What to Do When Facing a Challenging Person
In our lives, we will continually face challenges that test our ability to be kind and loving. But as Pope John Paul II once instructed to a group of volunteer workers:
“Welcoming our brothers and sisters with care and willingness must not be limited to extraordinary occasions but must become for all believers a habit of service in their daily lives.”
When working in hospitality, it is critical to remember this teaching when focusing on good customer service.
Undoubtedly, we will face a handful of people in our workplaces who are not agreeable and may make us feel frustrated or angry. Still, part of showing customers good hospitality is sharing the gospel with them, which means treating them with care. When faced with a challenging person, remember Pope John Paul II’s teaching, and try to make it a habit to be equally welcoming to every person you encounter.
Mary as a Model of Hospitality
It’s also helpful to look to Mary as an example of hospitality and loving service. In the Bible, once Mary conceives Christ, she immediately rushes to serve Elizabeth. The two provide each other with companionship, neighborly attitudes, and comfort, which is exactly the way that we should be hosts to others. This is a great model for how to treat the people served in the hospitality industry: as our holy guests who we can readily comfort.
Later on, in Bethlehem, Mary continued to be welcoming to strangers as they came to greet her new child, Jesus. Even though she herself did not have a lodging for her new family, she still received the wise men and shepherds with open arms. Time and time again, Mary shows us how welcoming people and caring about others is a holy virtue. Our homes, our churches, and our places of work should all be places where guests feel welcome.
Working in the hospitality industry is not for the faint of heart, and it is our Catholic duty to put our faith into action to show every guest the same compassion, care, and comfort in order to act as Jesus did.
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About Jackie Morgan
Working full time as a writer and researcher, Jackie pens pieces on numerous topics close to her heart. She’s a mom to two girls and when not working she enjoys going to church and volunteering for local charities that support people with mental health issues. She has in the past battled with anxiety, but she uses her own faith to guide her through troubled times and has found it very calming.