Homily for July 2, 2017
Today, we shall begin with a little bit of Catechism. Can anyone mention the seven corporal works of mercy? … Our readings today focuses on one of the seven corporal works of mercy which is: “Giving shelter to the homeless.” Or better put: “Kindness to strangers.”
Why must we be kind to strangers?
First of all, we should be kind to strangers because we could be strangers ourselves someday. Jesus taught us to do unto others what we want them to do to us. Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31 says “as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”
There is a saying that “when you are climbing a ladder, remember those you meet on the way because you might need them when coming down.” This saying is so true and so powerful. It is a matter of wisdom to always consider the plights of others because no one knows tomorrow.
Secondly, we should be kind to strangers because we do not know who is who. Remember how Abraham was resting one hot afternoon in the Oak of Mamre when he noticed some strangers passing by?
We are told: “When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I fetch a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” Genesis 18:2-5.
We all know how this encounter ended. Sarai was told the same thing that Elisha told the Shunamite woman in today’s first reading: “By this time next year, you would carry your own child.” Indeed, as the book of Hebrews puts it: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:1-2.
Be good to strangers because you never know when God would send an Angel your way to test you. Indeed, by your act of kindness, you might just be an Angel to someone else. The story is told of a little girl who was selling oranges in a very busy airport. One day some men in haste to catch their flight ran over her table of oranges spilling them all over the place. One of the men felt bad and upon noticing that the girl was blind stopped to help her thereby missing his flight. By the time he picked up all the oranges for the little girl, she asked him a question: “Are you Jesus Christ?” “Why are you asking?” he said. And she replied, “I prayed for Jesus Christ to come and help me gather these oranges.”
The third reason we must be good to strangers is because every act of kindness always comes with a reward. This is what Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel passage: “He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:41-42.
Note carefully that Jesus is not trying to say that it is only when we are kind to the man of God or to the Prophet that we get to receive our reward. The kindness Jesus is talking about here is universal. We should be kind to people, everybody; regardless of language, tribe, religion or nationality.
Fourthly, when we are kind to strangers, we are doing reparation for our sins. As St. Peter would advise: “Hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8. Goodness to others makes God overlook our sins. Recall the parable of the man who owed his master a huge debt? How his master forgave him only for him to throw his fellow servant in prison who owed him a lesser amount? If God can be so kind to us, we too should be kind to people not minding whether we shall be rewarded or not.
Dear friends, the greatest obstacle we face in kindness to others is tribalism which is the narrow minded way of thinking – considering only those who come from your place as important. No wonder Jesus said “whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me and who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37.
In this way, Jesus attacks the root of tribalism in our minds. Jesus wants us to have a broad mind set capable of accepting people and treating them with love even though they are not related to us, even though they don’t speak our language, even though they are not sons of the soil!
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, you have died once and for all to sin. Help me die to my selfishness and narrow mindedness. Amen.
It is well with you.
God bless you.
(Thirteenth Sunday of in Ordinary time. Year A. Bible Study: 2 Kings 4:8-16. Romans 6:3-11 and Matthew 10:37-42).