Jesus instructing his disciples tells them that if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is his disciple, will certainly not lose his or her reward (Matthew 10:42). Earlier, he tells them that anyone who welcomes them welcomes him, and anyone who welcomes him welcomes the one who sent him (Matthew 10:40). The words of instruction of Our Lord, Jesus Christ to his disciples were realized in the ministry of Elisha the prophet when he came in contact with the woman of Shunem. The Shunammite woman recognized the holiness of Elisha sought to do something for him as a prophet of God, persuaded him to eat some food as the guest of her hospitality. In his frequent visits to Shunem, the prophet would stop by to dine with them. The woman told her husband that since Elisha was a holy man of God, if they could make a little guest room for him and furnish it, where he could stay whenever he visited. With the approval of her husband, they made a room where Elisha could lodge in his frequent travels in the area.
The woman’s generosity and hospitality was going to be rewarded. The prophet noticing that she was barren, promised her and her husband that the following year, they would be fondling a baby son. With this, the stigma of barrenness would be removed. Eventually the couples who provided the needs of the prophet Elisha, in their generosity were blessed by God far more than their generous offers and hospitality.
This has a great lesson for all Disciples of Christ. It calls on each of us to endeavor to attain and remain in Divine union with Christ. Our goal is to attain oneness with God in his Son, Jesus Christ. This should be our highest priority. In this way, we will be recognized as men and women of God. Our lives must always point to God, like the lives of the Old Testament prophets, especially Elijah and Elisha. Jesus, today high-lights the need to be one with him. That is why he tells us that whoever loves father or mother more than him, is not worthy of him. He, who will not take up his cross and come after him is not worthy of him. Jesus wants us, his disciples to seek perfection by loving him above all things, and to perfect our loves and relationships with the love that flows from him and through him. The love that recognizes God in us is the selfless love of Jesus which enables us to lay down our lives for our loved ones. This is the love that reveals Jesus in us. In this exceptional love that is Christ-like, whoever recognizes us, as Disciples of Christ, and prophets of God and welcomes us, welcomes Christ himself and the Father who sent him. In this way, whoever offers us generosity and hospitality will never lose his or her reward. This is what happened in the case of the woman of Shunem when she recognized Elisha as the prophet of God and offered him hospitality.
Our liturgy today calls on us to revisit and renew our baptismal life. It will be very nice if we renew our baptismal vows and promises in which we rejected Satan, sin, death and everything that is evil; we need to renew our commitment to live only for God and uphold his ways. Our baptismal life calls on us to be Christ-like; to replicate his life, death and resurrection with our lives. It is in this way that we, too, can live a new life. As prophets of God, we shall be alive for God in Christ Jesus.
A man or a woman in Christ lives the life of love, offering generosity and hospitality to those in need. Jesus wants us to live out the corporal works of mercy. Among them is to feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to offer hospitality to strangers or shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned or ransom the captive, to bury the dead (see Matthew 25).In addition to these, we must do spiritual works of mercy which include the following: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to bear patiently those who wrong us, to forgive offenses, to comfort the afflicted and to pray for the living and the dead.
In all of these, we encounter Christ who is found in the face of the needy. In the end, he will be telling us that as we did it to the least of his brethren, we did it to him. Speaking on hospitality, the redactor of the letter to the Hebrews says: “don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! (Hebrews 13:2).” It takes a deep love of Christ to recognize him in others. We need to reach the depth of that spiritual life, in which St. Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).” May God give us the mind of Christ to continue to do the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and by so doing, find him in our brothers and sisters in need.