This summer, a UFO crossed the field of the news. This strange thing that has confused more than one is hospitality. The summer period was heavy in terrible events: earthquake in Haiti, fires, Covid, advance of the Taliban… Then came this other tragedy, the assassination of Father Olivier Maire, on August 9. We learned that the monk had been killed by the very one he was welcoming to his home in Vendée. This tragedy caused a double amazement in the public opinion: shock to learn of this murder and even greater surprise to discover that the alleged arsonist of Nantes cathedral was housed in a religious community.
It was this welcome that finally appeared to many to be the most singular thing of the summer. A fact that is even more difficult for some to understand than the mechanisms of climate change described by the IPCC report or the reasons for the Caribbean’s mistrust of the vaccine. Hospitality appears indeed far removed from current thinking, it has difficulty entering into our patterns, into our benefit / risk calculations.
Yet hospitality is not only a very ancient monastic tradition, but also one of the strongest values of our civilization, as evidenced by its references, from the Bible to the Declaration of Human Rights, from Homer to legislation on the right to asylum. So, despite everything, in the interstice of the harshness of the world, she resists. Strangers open their doors to other strangers, like, these days, these inhabitants of the Var who welcome in their homes, for one night, holidaymakers chased from their campsite by the flames. As also all those who are mobilizing today to welcome the Afghans, threatened by the arrival of the Taliban. Without denying political power the requirement to set the framework, let us not forget that hospitality is the mark of our humanity. It is also the sign of still more, as an old text of the Bible, the letter to Hebrews 13,2, emphasizes: “Do not forget the hospitality, because, thanks to it, some, without knowing it, have welcomed angels”.