Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me 

The theme of ‘welcome’ runs through today’s readings. In the First Reading, a holy woman welcomes the prophet Elisha and he promises that God will reward her for her hospitality with a son. In the Gospel, Jesus is about to send the Twelve Apostles out on their mission. Whoever welcomes a disciple, he tells them, is welcoming Jesus himself. To welcome Jesus means putting him at the centre of our lives. Nothing is more important than our relationship with him: not even family or friends; not even life itself. It can be hard to welcome the stranger and hard to accept hospitality too. But Jesus asks us to see his face in the faces of those who ask for our welcome. He himself was a wandering teacher and depended on the generosity of others.

It may surprise us to hear Jesus say that anyone who gives ‘a cup of cold water’ to the little ones will be rewarded. But there are many people today who do not have clean, safe water on tap. Those who are poor and lacking basic needs are the ‘little ones.’ The Lord has a special care for them, and so should we. When we welcome the poor, the needy and the vulnerable, we are welcoming Jesus.

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