A tall stack of hospitality

Michelle DiFranco

To harbor the harborless is a corporal work of mercy that simply means to provide shelter or refuge to the homeless, but there are other facets to it as well. It can be showing hospitality to or welcoming a stranger, a lonely person or the weary traveler. 

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law have a knack for entertaining. They’ve hosted countless elegant dinners for many in their beautifully appointed home. But for them, it goes beyond pretty napkins, fine stemware and well-plated food. And their guest list isn’t limited to family, friends or important clients. They have answered a calling to use their gift of Christian hospitality to reach out to the lonely and to serve others. 

To generously share what they have in their home, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law have welcomed people who are new to the faith community, missionary priests who are visiting from abroad and acquaintances who may have suffered loss or who are lonely during the holidays. They have taken in exchange students and hosted an eclectic and colorful array of people in an effort to share what they have. They have been blessed with a beautiful home, but they never seem to enjoy it as much as when it is being used by, and for, others. 

And as thoughtful parents, they encourage this practice with their children as well. Whether it’s for one guest or for eight, getting their house ready is a family effort. And all five of their children are up to the task. From getting the linens ready to serving meals, each child has a role in doing whatever it takes to make their guests feel welcome.

For my 11-year-old nephew David, it’s preparing meals. And for those lucky guests who have stayed for an extended period of time, it’s likely they have had a plate of his delicious, from-scratch pancakes as a part of a hearty Sunday brunch.

It is inspiring to see a family live the call to harbor the harborless, in any measure. But it is also uplifting to see how the process gives dignity and pride back, in return. David is as excited to share his pancakes as his parents are to share their home. He beams when he feels the guests appreciate and enjoy his creation. And so he should! He hasn’t just pleased his guests when he hosts and shares in the name of mercy, he has pleased our Lord! 


David’s delicious pancakes

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat griddle to 375 degrees (or medium to high heat on griddle pan). 

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add milk and combine with a whisk. Add the egg, oil, brown sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth. Use whatever add-ins you wish: chocolate chips, fruits, nuts, etc. Gently place a small ladleful or ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. 

Cook until bubbles begin to form and then gently flip with a spatula. Cook until light golden brown on bottom. Add syrup or whatever sauces and toppings you prefer. Enjoy!