16 July 2007 Monday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time Matthew 10, 34-11, 1: Simple Deeds
We shall reflect on verses 40-42 in the Gospel today: Jesus said, “He who receives you, receives Me; and he who receives Me, receives the One who sent Me.”
In the history of salvation, there is a certain process. God first loves us. He provides for our needs. He protects us from harm. He listens to our needs and our prayers. In the first reading, we begin to see the cry of the Israelites as the new Pharaoh persecutes them. Responding to their need, God sends Moses, the baby whom the Pharaoh’s daughter rescues from the Nile. Likewise, God sends His only Son, Jesus, to save us. Jesus brought God’s message of love to us. And in turn, Jesus formed his disciples to spread the Good News to believers — to us. And finally, the believer receives the message from these disciples, as the believer would receive Jesus himself.
Verses 40-42 give the principle of hospitality. In the past, they believe that receiving the messenger or emissary of the person is the same as welcoming the person who sent them. We often call them, representatives because they make present the one who sent them. It is the same way when we receive a visitor. The visitor may be a stranger to us; it may be the first time we met them. But, we would receive them wholeheartedly because the visitor is a friend of our friend. We would still treat them as we would our friend. We define hospitality when we say, “Feel at home”.
Jesus said that receiving Jesus, becoming a disciple, can be done in the simplest of things like a drink of cold water. The stress on simple things is prominent in the passage of the day. Therefore, service, as menial as home chores, are great in God’s eyes. We should not look down on these simple tasks. Washing clothes will not demean your professorship. Going to the wet market will not undermine your status as a doctor or a mayor of the town. It also tells us that a Christian condescend any one whose job is to do the ‘dirty work’ — our janitors, maintenance staff, or our house helps.
St. Alphonsus Rodriguez was a Jesuit brother whose assignment was a doorkeeper (receptionist or porter in modern language) at the college of Montesión in Palma, on an island of Majorca, Spain. As doorkeeper, his duty was to receive the visitors who came to the college, search out the fathers or students who were wanted in the parlors, deliver letters, run errands, console the sick at heart who, having no one to turn to, came to him, and giving alms to the needy. In his memoirs, he tells us that each the time bell rang he looked at the door and envisioned that it was God who was standing outside seeking admittance. On his way to the door, he would say, “I’m coming Lord!” Every visitor was greeted the same happy smile from Alphonsus. In his interest in the students, who regularly came to him for advice, he talks about his devotion to Our Lady. One student who came to visit him was the young Peter Claver who would soon be a Jesuit saint in his mission to slaves.
The simple duties at home can make us saints.