A reflection on Matthew 10:40-42, the Gospel lesson for Proper 8a, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
Doesn’t that make you sit up a little straighter? When you are welcomed into someone else’s presence, they are also welcoming Christ.
One could say that this is an extension of us bearing the Image of God. One could also say that this is an extension of our priesthood (of all believers), wherein we are given the gift of representing Christ to the world.
And one could say that because in Pauline Theology that we are in Christ, and in Johannine Theology that Christ abides in us, our mystical union with Christ puts his Life coursing through our veins. So where we are, so is Christ.
So, please do sit up a little straighter!
But, this also cuts in the other direction. With these words from Matthew 10 Jesus is speaking to us…but he is also speaking to those who are sent to us. When we welcome them, we welcome Christ.
In Matthew 25 we often get caught up in the moments when Jesus is hungry, and thirsty, and naked – and we feed, offer drink, and clothe him. But, there is also:
When I was a stranger you welcomed me.
Hospitality is a basic Christian practice. We welcome others into our homes, around our tables, and into our lives. It’s an extension of loving our neighbor. And, because by welcoming them we are also welcoming God in Christ, it is also an extension of loving God with our hearts, souls, and lives.
It’s one of those things that we ought to go out of our way to do.
And not just with the strangers who show up on our door. It’s sometimes easier to extend hospitality to someone we’ve never met before, or someone we just barely know…but at the same time forget those who are always around us.
I am guilty of this. I will overextend myself meeting the needs of others, at any time of the night or day…and then neglect to extend myself to my wife or children. I’ll come home so zapped, that I’ve left nothing to give to them.
This is not good, for they bear the Divine Image too. Taking their love and attention for granted is just as much an affront to hospitality as slamming the front door on a complete stranger.
Our task is to consciously attend to the Christ in everyone. Christ in the stranger. Christ in the enemy. Christ in the friend. Christ in the spouse. Christ in our sibling. Christ in the politician who makes our blood boil. Christ in the one who believes differently than I do.
Christ in everyone.
For when we can regard everyone as Christ…then, just maybe…they will see the Christ who is in us. And, who makes us sit up a little straighter.