Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
Jesus, in today’s gospel, calls our attention to hospitality and kindness. Hospitality and kindness are the heart of our spirituality and the core of the Gospel. Jesus said “Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” I would like to share with you this story I have heard years ago. This is a true story of a boy who was born underprivileged hence, he said goods from door to door just to earn a living and pay his education. One day he felt very hungry and decided to ask for something to eat at the next house he is about to visit. However, he lost his guts to ask for a meal when a beautiful young woman opened the door for him. Instead of asking for a meal, he just asked for one glass of water. But the young lady noticed that he looked hungry. So instead of water she brought him one large glass of milk. He slowly drank the milk and asked “How much do I owe you?” The lady replied, “You don’t owe me anything, for our mother taught us to never expect anything for kindness”. He thanked her with all his heart and walked away. However, that little act of kindness made a mark on his heart and made him feel stronger and better. He was ready to give up in his life before that happened, but because someone had showed him kindness in a much unexpected event, he regained his trust in God and man. Years had passed and the young woman became seriously ill. The local doctors were kind of baffled at her case so they sent her to the hospital in the big city. A specialist was needed to study her rare illness so they consulted Dr. Howard Kelly. When Dr. Kelly heard the name of the town where the patient came from, an inexplicable light filled his eyes. He immediately went to see the patient and recognized her at one glance. Determined to save her, he went back to the consultation room and did his best to save the life of a woman who once made a difference in his life. After a long battle, he finally won. Dr. Kelly requested the hospital accounts to forward the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it and without any hesitation wrote something on the bill and had it sent to the woman’s room. The woman got the bill and was afraid to open it for she was so sure that the cost was high and would probably take all her life to pay for it. But when she finally opened it, something caught her eye. In the corner of the bill was a note; she could hardly believe. It was written: “Paid in full with one glass of milk”. Signed Dr. Howard Kelly. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Every kind word spoken will be rewarded. Every handshake, hug or embrace will be remembered. Every meal cooked for the sick God has recorded. Every visitation, every sharing of faith, every time you volunteer your time and talent in our church or anywhere, every fellowship meal prepared, every offering….don’t despair, my friend! God will reward kind words and good deeds, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
One more thing I wish to bring to your attention from today’s gospel. Jesus said, “Whoever gives a cup of Cold water…” Jesus made mention that the water was cold but water at any temperature will satisfy thirst. The gift of cold water is a gift with a little extra attached. It is the “extra” that touches the heart. A missionary to a south pacific island told a story. After he had ministered for many years, the natives held a celebration in his honor. He was presented with many gifts, but the natives were poor and the gifts were all seemingly small. Still, the missionary appreciated the gesture. One gift particularly attracted him. It was a vase of flowers; but these flowers were unusual. He had never seen any like them. He asked one of his parishioners where he could find more like them. The parishioner responded, “The only place you can find them in the world is on the other side of the island.” The ‘back side’ of their island was almost uninhabited and very difficult to travel. Later the missionary asked the giver of the flowers, “Why did you go to so much trouble getting me the flowers? You must have walked for miles just to find them.” The native responded, “The walk was part of the gift.” Even in his poverty, he found a way to give a little “extra.”
Hospitality means encountering the presence of God in others, usually where we least expect to find Him. The virtue of hospitality is the virtue of recognizing the presence of God in others and nourishing this presence. Maybe we offer hospitality simply by offering a stranger a kind word or a smile. When we live in such a busy and hectic world, we tend to brush off people who need help. A kind smile or a “hello” to someone waiting with us in a grocery line may be the only kindness that person encounters all day. I tell you this because we become fully alive as Christians through the generous giving of ourselves.
God Bless You,