Friday, June 30, 2023

Gospel Reading and Reflection for Sunday, June 30

Matthew 10:40-42

10:40 "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

10:41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous;

10:42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."


As Jesus continues the instructions to those he is sending out, there’s an eerie parallel with Matthew 25: 35, “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

It’s easy to overlook the act of welcoming another into our lives. The twist is that the immediate presence of Jesus Christ is the One being welcomed.

How different would my life be if I reflected on this amazing teaching? What if i made room for this Jesus? The message of God’s in-breaking kingdom is matched with how i welcome others into my life.

Choices are made in light of the Christ who is here and now, embodied in those welcomed. Not in terms of my convenience or preference or privilege.  

The examples of receiving a prophet and giving a cup of cold water could relate to experiences of missionaries prior to Matthew’s Gospel. Did he look at examples of welcome and hostility to Paul and his message? 

Welcoming others in the name of another prophet or disciple was the practice of the earliest church , witness the story of Paul and Ananias in Acts 9. In this case Ananias may have become the disciple vouching for Paul, the disciple in whose name Paul is welcomed by the church. 

Jesus sometimes called his followers “little ones.” They are not, in this context, the privileged few. Those at the top of the food chain “have their reward,” but those making welcome for the little ones will find a different kind of reward, one that comes in almost invisible acts of kindness and welcome. *

What could possibly be the “reward” for welcoming  “little ones,” or Christ, or God!?** Integrity. I get to fulfill my ministry and calling. I live into my purpose and potential as a human being, made in God’s image and likeness. I don’t have to honor the animal, instinctual brain. I can choose! 

This welcoming, receiving, and giving are their own reward, ends in themselves, and nothing more or less. Sounds like a chance for both inner and outer repentance and change. 

Repentance offers the church -which is anyone who claims Christ’s name- a chance to live by the alternative vision of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom announced in Jesus and his missioners prizes actual welcome, receiving and sharing. Words just sugar coat the real failures and the positive hindrances I have created and perpetuate for others.  For preachers and teachers, our words are empty if the repentance and alternative are not explicitly presented for others to hear.

Without repentance I do not change and without change, there is only the default of flying to Jesus but silencing his words of welcoming, receiving, and sharing his kingdom.

*For hypocrites having their reward, see Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16

**See the many references to “little ones” in Albert Nolan’s classic, Jesus Before Christianity (1976, 2001).

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