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Center for Action and Contemplation
Love and Justice
Love and Justice

Hospitality of the Heart

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Father Richard understands justice as loving solidarity with those who suffer:

We must not separate ourselves from the suffering of the world. When we’re close to those in pain, their need evokes love in us. Very few of us have the largess, the magnanimity to just decide to be loving. Someone has to ask it of us. We have to place ourselves in situations with people who are not like us, outside our systems of success and security, so we can read life from another perspective. The needs we witness will pull us toward love, toward generosity and compassion.

I think the icon of the cross does this on a spiritual level. The bleeding body pulls us into itself and into bleeding humanity, too. I experience this pull when watching the news, witnessing the suffering of people all over the world. I realize much of the broadcast is superficial and even biased, but it takes me out of the protective bubble of my little hermitage where I can live far too peacefully and comfortably. It makes me more aware that right now there is a woman in Syria or Ukraine carrying her baby and running for her life. I must take that in and be in solidarity with her in whatever ways I can, witnessing what she is going through: the anxiety, the pain, the fear. That’s what teaches us how to love. That is the pain we must allow to transform us and inspire us to act somehow.

All of us are called to the work of justice, which will look different for many people. My primary work is to send prayer and love toward those who are hurting. I do believe consciousness is the deepest level of reality. I also use my voice, through my teaching and writing, to awaken others to the reality of suffering and injustice in the world. I hope to encourage them to allow God’s love to flow through them, transforming and healing pain. I also hope that our Living School and other programs are helping to train and equip people to meet the suffering in the world. [1]

For theologians Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Graham Hill, we restore justice when we practice “hospitality of heart” inspired by Jesus:

Jesus embodied the justice of God in his love, hospitality, truth, and grace. Jesus had a just mission. Revealing the justice of God, Jesus welcomed the stranger, rejected social discrimination, confronted economic injustice, spoke against institutional power, and repudiated war and violence. . . .

Carol Dempsey says that the spirit of justice is “hospitality of heart.” [2] When we open our hearts to hospitality, we feel compelled to seek justice. When we embrace creation, the poor, our enemies, strangers, foreigners, outcasts, and others, we desire justice for them. We welcome without judging. We love our neighbors as ourselves. We reflect the justice, love, and hospitality of God. This hospitality leads us to desire and work for the flourishing, well-being, and good of others. [3]


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 238–239.

[2] Carol J. Dempsey and Elayne J. Shapiro, Reading the Bible, Transforming Conflict (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011), 6.

[3] Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Graham Hill, Healing Our Broken Humanity: Practices for Revitalizing the Church and Renewing the World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2018), 93–94.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Nathan Garcia, Untitled (detail), 2019, photograph, Albuquerque. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: Imagine our world illumined by love and justice.

Story from Our Community:

I am a queer Asian female. These Daily Meditations resonate within my soul – as if its seed were something I had always known – but reading confirms it, lodges it more deeply. The work of CAC is profound indeed for the world, with eternal implications. Shukran, Wassalam! —Anne L.

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Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

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