Here, Christ is Loved and Fed
This is the Great Saint Bernard Pass in southern Switzerland.
For centuries, this was the primary route through the Alps from mainland Europe to the peninsula of Italy, and more importantly Rome. Hundreds of significant people in history have passed through this very place, from battalions sent out by Caesar before the time of Christ to Napoleon himself in 1800.
Today, it is known for two things.
The first is the dog breed bearing the same name. It was originated here to help in search and rescue efforts to find lost travelers in the dangerous conditions of the Alps. Today, they are still bred in the area and you can visit a couple of museums about their history.
The second thing that the pass is known for is the hospice there which has warmly welcomed travelers for 1,000 years! It was founded in 1045 by St. Bernard of Menthon (the actual person that the pass and dog breed are both named after). His goal was to give a welcoming stay to weary people traversing the snowy and dangerous mountains. From then until now, the hospice has been consistently run by a group of monks offering food or a bed or even rescuing hikers (with the help of some big dogs).
And as a sign of its welcome to all who pass through, the front door has never had a lock on it for its 1,000-year history. It has welcomed kings and paupers alike through those doors. I still can't fully grasp the weight of the history of that place!
But here's what struck me the most. The motto of the hospice comes from this Latin phrase:
Hic Christus adoratur et pascitur
Here Christ is loved and fed
This motto comes from Matthew 25.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me...as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
For the people running the hospice, every single person was a representation of Christ, and their service to those people was a service to Christ himself. I love that imagery! And their goal was to be able to say at the end of each day, "Here, Christ was loved and fed." It wasn't about fixing all the problems in every corner of the earth, but for the people God had brought to them, they served them as though serving Christ himself.
This was both a challenge and an encouragement to me as we visited this place. My mind goes immediately to the need for Bible translation around the world. That need is enormous and can be a bit overwhelming. But I must remember that I am not personally called to translate a Bible for every person on earth. I am a part of something much bigger than myself. I have been called to serve the people of Côte d'Ivoire, and my job is to serve them as I would serve Christ himself, to love them and give them the Bread of Life.
Wherever you are, this is what God has called you to, also - to love and serve those around you.
So that, at the end of each day, we can say about our life...
"Here, Christ was loved and fed"