“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley
Hayya’s home in Tel Aviv was well known because of the reputation that her home was open to all. Hardly a day went by when she and her husband did not have guests in their home. There were all kinds of people – young, old, wealthy, poor, friends, strangers – who came and ate at their table, and everyone was treated like a king or queen. Some guests would come and live in the house for months at a time; sometimes there were ten such guests, at other times as many as thirty! All of them were made to feel as if they were in their own home.
Hayya lived each day ready to give everything she had to another human being who might be in need. She had grown in perfection with her kindness, and her giving was done wholeheartedly and joyfully.
One day her son told the story of the time his mother sent him to borrow some money from a neighbor. When he returned with the money in hand, she took the envelope with the money in it from him, placed it away, and never even opened it.
Her son later asked her, “Mother, why did you borrow the money from our neighbor if you aren’t going to use it?”
“I did it,” she explained, “so that our neighbor won’t be ashamed of his need one day and he will be willing to borrow from us.”
Hayya gave, and even her taking was giving.
Scripture tells us that God is “compassionate and gracious.” (Psalm 103:8) Hayya lived her faith with her graciousness and was “giving.” What added to her graciousness was her refined sensitivity to the needs of others — acting so that no one would be ashamed to take. Hayya lived her faith with an open home, an open heart, and an open hand.
I share this story today for several reasons. First of all, it is good to remind ourselves of the beautiful stories and values that come from that region of our world where Christ was born. I also share the story because it reminds me that God wants us to welcome all people as His guests (Hebrew 18:2) and to give generously. (For it is in giving that we receive. – St. Francis of Assissi) That’s what he did with his son Jesus Christ. Not only are these important qualities for us to practice in our homes, they are important qualities for us to live out as the church.
May it be so …
* This story, (edited by me), in it’s original form comes from the book “Jewish Tales of Holy Women” by Yitzhak Buxbaum.
- Oh My Knocking Knees! ~ Sermon 6/24/12 (barefootpreachr.org)