JESUS AND HOSPITALITY
(A biblical reflection on THE 13th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 28 June 2020)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:37-42
First Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-11,14-16; Psalms: Psalm 89:2-3,16-19; Second Reading: Romans 6:3-4,8-11
The Scripture Text
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who does not take the cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:37-42 RSV)
In the second part of today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 10:40-42), we have the same theme as in the first reading of today. The lady of Shunem was rewarded by God, because she was charitable to one whom she recognized as a “man of God”. This was in Old Testament times. In the Christian era, all those who cooperate, even in a little way, with the representatives of Christ, who show hospitality to them, will also be rewarded. The reward may not come to them in this life, but if not, it will be all the greater, it will be in the next life.
We know that as soon as Jesus is born Matthew portrays Him in the Gospel as the one who is born into a place where He is not accepted: He has no security, and must be taken to Egypt for safety and shelter. At the beginning of His life Jesus is marked as the one who must depend on the hospitality of others. As an adult Jesus learns that He cannot depend on the acceptance of His own family when He begins His ministry as a prophet. He takes to the road with His own band of itinerant supporters. As they leave their own region of Galilee behind them, they become a travelling people who have to depend on others’ hospitality to receive them and welcome their message.
When Jesus is welcomed into towns and villages by people who see Him as a holy messenger from God, the people receive a holy man’s reward: the poor hear Good News, the sick are healed, sinners come to know the forgiveness of God. The people receive their own reward for the hospitality of a faith that welcomes Jesus. Their hospitality is not a matter of bed and breakfast and goodbye; it is the act of opening their heart to the visit of God who comes in the person of Jesus. Jesus’ presence rubs off on them; they catch something of His goodness and values; they are changed because of His visit.
When Jesus and His disciples faced closed doors and closed hearts in other towns, all that the people receive is a cloud of dust.
Jesus preaches hospitality, openness, welcome …… Shall we leave some little place at our table for the stranger? … A real welcome is the smiling expression of Love … This is the gift which every one can make most often, even when one is too poor for having anything else to give than this kind of welcome … In an easily de-humanized world searching for new opportunities for human communication, the invitation of Jesus remains valid. All people are sent back to the simple gesture of “giving a cup of cold water” to the thirsty! A mere glass of water! …… Yes, this is the symbol of the most basic inter-personal relationship …
The ultimate support that Jesus looks for is our openness to the Gospel. The Gospel, however, is not so simple as may appear at first. And, Jesus keeps challenging our indifference and our lack of attentiveness …
His promise stands good for all who listen to His word today. Jesus doesn’t want us to give an offering to His messenger in the hope that they will go away and leave us in peace. Supporting your local prophets means first listening to what they say. But it also means taking practical responsibility for supporting them in their ministry. One of the characteristics of the Church is the generosity of the people towards their ministers and so many pastoral projects. Jesus says that responding to all this has its own reward. People won’t lose by their generosity to the cause of the Gospel. As Jesus tells His messengers: “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matthew 10:40). In the end, it is God who is our guest.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, with a sincere faith we will keep Your promise that even a cup of cold water will not go unrewarded, every little helping hand we give to bring our fellowmen to heaven will help us, too, toward the same goal. Heaven is our real goal in life – it alone will satisfy all our desires and it alone will last forever. Lord, make my heart as Your heart. Amen.
Jakarta, 27 June 2020
A Christian Pilgrim