WELCOME – Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 8, Year A; Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (RC)

July 2, 2023

Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 22:1-14 or Jeremiah 28:5-9
Psalm 13 or Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
Psalm 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19 (2a)
Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
Matthew 10:37-42

What goes through your mind when you walk into a room full of strangers? If you’re anything like me, you may wonder what people are thinking of you, whether you’ll be able to engage in any kind of meaningful conversation, and whether you’ll really be welcome there.

In today’s Gospel reading, the followers of Jesus had to be wondering what kind of reception they would receive as he sent them out on mission. He seeks to allay their fears as he teaches them about the far-reaching effects that can flow from the simple act of welcoming. When people receive those who speak and act in his name, they are welcoming Christ himself and the God who sent him. Jesus implies that when people fail to welcome those who speak in his name, they are missing the opportunity for an encounter with the Holy One.

Jesus speaks about extending hospitality to prophets, righteous persons, and “little ones” (Mt 10:42). That includes the prophets who point to our hypocrisy and flaws and the righteous who remind us by their singlemindedness of how we really ought to be living and acting toward others. We are likewise to show kindness to the poor, the hungry, the immigrant, the lost, the sorrowing, and those who are in prison. Jesus issues a call to welcome everyone because all bear the image of Christ.

Many church communities have latched on to hospitality as a way to attract newcomers and bolster membership numbers. Jesus, however, speaks of welcome not as a marketing tool but as a way of being in relationship with him and with the little ones who are called blessed in the reign of God. In a surprising reversal, it is these seemingly insignificant ones who are welcoming us into the presence of Christ. What he says about receiving his emissaries can also be applied to these “little ones”: “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Mt 10:40).

How do we receive Christ as he continues to come among us in the faces of those we encounter each day? Later in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that we will be judged not by our church attendance or committee service, but by the ways in which we have welcomed him by giving food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, providing clothing to the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison. “Truly I tell you,” he says, “just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

A Hymn for Today: “Sing a New World into Being”

Mary Louise Bringle, FHS, has written a hymn that invites us to join boldly and hopefully in God’s song and to embrace God’s vision for a world where all are welcome, including those who have been excluded and treated unjustly. The boldness of the vision is supported by its pairing with the jubilant HYMN TO JOY. Listen here.

Sing a new world into being.
Sound a bold and hopeful theme.
Find a tune for silent yearnings,
Lend your voice and dare to dream:
dream a church where all who worship
find their lives and loves belong.
Sing a new world into being.
Sing as Christ inspires your song!

Sing a new world into being,
where each gender, class, and race
brings its rainbow gifts and colors
to God’s limitless embrace;
where the lines that once divided
form instead the ties that bind.
Sing a new world into being:
risk transforming heart and mind!

Sing a new world into being
where the homeless find a home;
where no children ever hunger
but are filled with God’s shalom;
where all people work for justice,
where all hate and vengeance cease.
Sing a new world into being:
raise the harmonies of peace.

Sing a new world into being.
Join the ancient prophets’ cry
for a time of health and plenty
when all tears have been wiped dry;
when compassion flows like waters,
pouring balm for all who grieve.
Sing a new world into being:
live the promise you believe!

Text: Mary Louise Bringle, © 2006, GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857

Image Credit: Welcome, ALSC Blog, Creative Commons

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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