Archive for November 19th, 2012

Elizabeth  of Hungary, born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude. Given in an arranged political marriage, she became wife of Louis of Thuringia (Germany) at age 14.

Her spirit of Christian generosity and charity pervaded the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach. Their abode was known for hospitality and family love.

Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy, even giving up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at age 20, she arranged for her children’s well-being and entered into life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.

(From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Appointed Readings:

Psalm 146:4-9 or 112:1-9
Matthew 25:31-40 or Luke 12:32-34

Reflection by Dr. Martin Luther:  

This is … an outstanding praise of hospitality, in order that we may be sure that God Himself is in our home, is being fed at our house, is lying down and resting as often as some pious brother in exile because of the Gospel comes to us and is received hospitably by us. This is called brotherly love or Christian charity; it is greater than that general kindness which is extended even to strangers and enemies when they are in need of our aid…. For the accounts of the friendships of the Gentiles, like those of Theseus and Hercules, of Pylades and Orestes, are nothing in comparison with the brotherhood in the church; its bond is an association with God so close that the Son of God says that whatever is done to the least of His is done to Himself. Therefore their hearts go out without hypocrisy to the needs of their neighbor, and nothing is either so costly or so difficult that a Christian does not undertake it for the sake of the brethren, … But if anyone earnestly believed that he is receiving the Lord Himself when he receives a poor brother, there would be no need for such anxious, zealous, and solicitous exhortations to do works of love. Our coffers, storeroom, and compassion would be open at once for the benefit of the brethren. There would be no ill will, and together with godly Abraham we would run to meet the wretched people, invite them into our homes, and seize upon this honor and distinction ahead of others and say: “O Lord Jesus, come to me; enjoy my bread, wine, silver, and gold. How well it has been invested by me when I invest it in You!”


for the poor

for the sick and suffering

for the unemployed

Post-Script:  The Luther family’s home eventually became the very Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg in which he had been a monk. He and his wife Katie did not use it just for themselves by any stretch!  There would be as many as 30-40 dinner and house guests at any given time:  evangelical pastors fleeing persecution, university students, supporters and the like. So fulsome were the discussions that guests took notes which eventually become the good-sized volume, Tabletalks.  One of the qualification of a bishop in the Bible is  hospitality:  “Therefore a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable…” (1 Timothy 3:2)  Luther’s last sentence above reminds me of a Hasidic story: A rabbi was seen giving money to drunken destitute man and a congregant said, “Rabbi, why are you giving money to someone so worthless and who will not repay?” And the rabbi replied, “The Lord gave it me, didn’t He?” Fr. Martin had little sense of money and would give to those who asked for money.  Unfortunately and sadly, upon his death, Katie did not have much.  Martin and Katie must be remembered, as Elizabeth, as Christians who welcomed in hospitality the stranger.  Our homes are not just for our families alone and contemplate this as we approach Thanksgiving Day. We sacrifice for others in service not to be saved but because we are saved.

We pray…

Mighty King, whose inheritance is not of this world, inspire in us the humility and benevolent charity of Elizabeth of Hungary.  She scorned her bejeweled crown with thought of the thorned one her Savior donned for her sake and ours, that we, too, might live a life of sacrifice, pleasing in Your sight and worthy of the Name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, who with the Holy Spirit reigns with You forever in the everlasting kingdom.  

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: