Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gospel Text for Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Matthew 10:40-42

Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 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; 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."

1 comment:

  1. This is a difficult text for me to engage living as I do in Arizona where the question of immigration and hospitality looms large in the public discourse. Whom shall we welcome? Under what conditions?
    My mind keeps leaping to another text in Matthew (19.19) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But it is in Luke’s gospel that the underlying question is raised by a man who was trying to justify himself when he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (10.29)

    In some translations of the Bible the Greek for welcome is translated as “receive.” To welcome more generally means to receive gladly. I believe for Jesus that meant radical hospitality, welcoming the stranger while remembering that we too have been strangers. “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.(Lev 19.34) "You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exd 23.9)“Remember, when you welcome strangers you may be welcoming angels.” (Heb 13.2)

    I believe immigration is not a political issue – it’s a God issue, it’s a human issue. Last night a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, exposed himself as an illegal immigrant. He didn’t know he was illegal until he tried to get a driver’s license at 16 years of age. And Vargas reports that he spent the next 14 years working hard to live as a good citizen, essentially earning citizenship by the way he lived his life. Though he has violated US law Vargas considers himself a good citizen. There is lots of grey in this story. We are all strangers (or aliens) before God, all hoping to be received gladly into God’s kingdom. I wonder what more than living as good citizens of God’s kingdom God expects of us? Oh yes, there is the thing about hospitality - welcoming 'even one of these little ones."