Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:1-42 (NRSV)
The words of Jesus in today’s reading reflect the conflict that his followers were experiencing at the time of Matthew’s writing. This would have been the time in history when the Christian presence in synagogues was transitioning throughout the world into separate church communities.
There were persecutions not only on this front as the Christians would have been the minority view among the Jewish societies of the day, but also within the wider Roman world where Christianity was beginning to take hold among the Gentiles.
|This is not the theology of the Church.|
The initial instructions to go nowhere among the Samaritans or Gentiles was not because Jesus had no compassion for them. It was not to exclude them from the Good News. It was because he was sending out his disciples who were counting on the recipients to know the hospitality of Abraham. The judgment comes to the places who will not offer it as they have been taught.
This harkens back to the idea that those who hear the word but are not active in pursuing it have built a house on sand rather than a firm foundation.
Our passage today ends with the reward for those who offer a welcome. You’ll notice that those places who received the disciples in those towns at the beginning found that their sick were cured, the dead were raised, their lepers were cleansed and their demons troubled them no more. Those who offer the welcome receive life. Those that are stingy with their hospitality remain sick, dead, cut-off and possessed.
What does this say about the church today?
How can we offer a cup of cold water to the thirsty?
What does it look like in our household? Is there a way that we can be more hospitable to one another?
What does it look like personally for me? How do I welcome Jesus into my life?
We will find that Jesus later identifies in Matthew as the stranger among us. Maybe we need to adopt a sense of welcome so that strangers quickly become friends. I hope that people will comment about us, “They never met a stranger!”
Prayer for the day:
God, we are thankful for a sense of belonging.
When we are connected with family and friends,
we recognize that blessings abound.
We pray for those who are cut-off. We also know
what it feels like to stand outside the door while it remains shut.
May we find ourselves opening the door more often until
we leave it open. And may our joy come quickly as we realize
that you are the one we receive!
Photo by Flood G. via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.