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You’re Welcome

Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’ [Matt 10:40]
Welcome to church today!
Today’s Gospel from Matthew records Jesus urging his disciples to be open to others, to welcome the stranger, to receive people with genuine warmth, and to offer our lives as living sacrifices, acting with mercy and kindness.
At first glance this passage appears unspectacular; hospitality can bring to mind mundane images of forced smiles, cosy company and bland conversations over cups of tea.
But Jesus’ emphasis on practising hospitality like our lives depended on it is really a frightening challenge.
His Jewish disciples must have reeled at his words: ‘You’re saying we must accept those Gentiles as equals! Treat foreigners as our own? You must be kidding!’
First Century Christians struggled with Jesus’ revolutionary teachings and we continue to struggle with them today.
As the gap between rich and poor ever widens, there can be a tendency to blame those less fortunate for their situations. ‘Why should we help those who can’t help themselves?’ we ask.
The unsettling issue of the ‘boat people’ crisis challenges us to wrestle with our attitudes and prejudices. ‘Why not just send them back to where they came from?’ we mutter.
But life isn’t that black and white. And we must constantly ask ourselves, ‘What would Jesus do here?’
Hospitality in our daily lives must extend to the smallest things: a thank you and smile to the cashier at the checkout, politeness in responding to those annoying marketing phone calls at meal times, or sharing your lunch with someone who left theirs at home.
Jesus will always call us from our places of cosiness to where we’re confronted by the things that so set his heart on fire: we just have to be brave enough to follow him.
May our thoughts, words and actions always be guided by the Spirit of Jesus who urges us to practise the ministry of hospitality, to welcome others in need as indeed we were welcomed by him.