July 15, 2010

On Hospitality and Gratitude

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Hospitality is respected in other faiths but Christianity emphasized hospitality as an obligation and responsibility. On the other hand, gratitude for hospitality is no less an obligation and responsibility for Christians. He who learns to be grateful to men for hospitality will know how to be grateful even to God for hospitality. For what are we here on earth except as guests of God? What are angels in heaven except as guests of God?

The story is told about Emperor Philip of Macedonia, how he severely punished one of his courtiers for ingratitude. The emperor sent his courtier overseas to fulfill a task for him. The courtier accomplished this task and returned by boat. A tempest destroyed the boat and the courtier found himself in the waves. Fortunately, it was not too far from the shore. A fisherman saw the man drowning, hurried to his assistance with his small boat and brought him ashore. After he recovered and rested, the courtier returned to the emperor and related the misfortunate incident about the tempest on the sea. The emperor wishing to reward the courtier asked him what does he wish the emperor to give him? The courtier mentioned that fisherman and said to the emperor that he would like most of all if he would grant him the property along the sea belonging to the fisherman. The emperor granted the courtier his wish. When the courtier settled on the estate of his greatest benefactor [the fisherman], then the fisherman in great despair went to the emperor, related all and complained. He said that he saved the life of the courtier and now he ousted him from his home. Upon hearing this, the emperor became furious with the ungrateful courtier and ordered that he be branded on his forehead with the words: "Ungrateful Guest."