`If you want to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood’. Daniel Berrigan’s quote seems apt for Chapter 10 of Matthew’s gospel. Here we see Jesus sending the twelve ‘on mission with instructions’. He gives them some pointers about how to behave but mostly about the hardships they will encounter along the way. He is sending them as sheep among wolves. `Whoever does not take up their cross and come after me is not worthy of me.’ Jesus never tried to hide the cross from his followers. This, of course, doesn’t mean we are to seek out our crosses but to accept them as they come along.
Giving and receiving a cup of water and welcoming the other, seem simple and doable after all that talk about the cross and the many sufferings we will endure. The verb welcome is used 6 times in in verses 40, 41 to emphasise its importance. In welcoming someone we are welcoming Jesus and the One who sent Him. Perhaps never before in the story of humanity does this verb hold such a challenge for us. We see the rising resistance of many to welcoming the stranger, the dispossessed, the refugee in our midst.
In the first reading from 2 Kings we have the lovely story of the ‘rich woman’ – nameless, as are so many women in the Bible, and in society today. She is attentive to Elisha’s need to stay and rest when he pays a visit. Many of us have met such women. I recall with love the many Maria’s of rural communities who after feeding me would then ask if I would like to have a rest, showing me their beds. These same people were always attentive to the needs of their neighbours and community. Not just satisfied with becoming aware of the need, they actually did something about it.
Hospitality and attentiveness to the needs of the other may cost us, but as Pope Francis says, ` We are saved not by an idea but by an encounter`.
Bridget O’Driscoll OP