What Life-Giving, Hospitable, Christian Community Might Look Like

Here is an excerpt from Virgilio Elizondo’s Spiritual Writings from the Modern Spiritual Masters Series (Orbis Books).

This reminds me of some of my experiences in the Church. Would that we all be intentional about cultivating such beautiful postures. I want my life and home to be like this. We don’t have a whole lot by American standards, but that’s not the point is it?

To put it in context, he is speaking of the “family farm” known as La Maravilla.

“From its reputation, one would certainly get the impression that La Maravilla was a huge estate of thousands of acres of the finest grazing lands and the most fertile fields. Actually, it was only a two-acre piece of land on the outskirts of San Antonio with nothing more than a few jack rabbits, squirrels, and snakes moving between the cacti, mesquite trees, and other wild shrubs. What gave rise to the very popular myth of the great marvels of La Maravilla was not the physical things it produced but the marvelous fellowship that was experienced there (emphasis mine).

Every Sunday, mi papa would take a carload of chorizos, meats, and chickens to barbecue. There would be plenty of salads, beans, corn on the cob, lemonade, and beer for anyone who wanted to come. My college friends of all ethnic, religious, and social backgrounds would come just as easily as friends from the neighborhood and professional people who were friends of Papa. Without any concern for anyone’s background or identity, the friendly conversation could easily go from world affairs to neighborhood gossip to joke telling to anything else. No topic was out of place, and no one ever felt out of place. Whoever came was equally welcomed, and there was always plenty of food and drink for everyone. At La Maravilla, we were all friends and cared about each other. People came not because they already cared about each other, but in the midst of the fellowship produced by the food and drink they shared in common, they became friends and started to care for one another. This was the community of La Maravilla, whose marvels became known as paradise on earth full of the best things of earth. In actuality it had only the very best: a community of friends where everyone who came experienced unconditional welcome; a place where strangers became friends and friends rejoiced in the company of one another.

My dad has been dead for thirty years, yet for those who remember, the myth of La Maravilla continues to grow and enliven our lives.”

(pp. 46-47).

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