Gospel: Matthew 10: 37-42

Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And 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.”

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord!

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us: "remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this,
some people have entertained angels without knowing it." From Abraham and Sarah onwards,
the scriptures show how people who extend hospitality to strangers are often the ones who
actually end up receiving God's hospitality. In today's first reading, the prophet Elisha wants to
give some kind of recompense to the unnamed woman who is so generous in her welcome to
the holy man and his companion. She declines his offer, saying that she has everything she
needs. Her generosity is not given for any hope of reward but simply as an expression of her
kindness, of the sort of person she is. However, the prophet is able to promise her the one
thing that she truly desires: the gift of a son. In the Gospel, Jesus intensifies this teaching on
the importance of welcome and hospitality. Jesus identifies so closely with his disciples that he
states that anything done to help them will be regarded as done to him personally, even
something as trivial as offering a cup of water. And by welcoming him, we welcome the Father
who sent him. But God is never outdone in hospitality. We give different names to that
hospitality: salvation, eternal life, wholeness, healing, mercy, redemption, forgiveness, holiness.
This is how we experience the hospitality of God. Always, when we welcome God into our lives,
in our prayers, in our service of others, in faithfulness to our calling, it is here that we find
ourselves blessed and enriched by this encounter.

Pope Francis has made the idea of hospitality central to his ministry. His first journey after
becoming Pope was to the Italian island of Lampedusa to visit the migrants who were risking
their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life. He has continuously
spoken of the importance of welcoming those in need, saying Christians are people who build
bridges to welcome others. In his 2019 message for World Day of Migrants and refugees, Pope
Francis stated that the issue of mass migration is "not just about migrants" themselves, but that
"it's all about us" confronting ourselves with our fears and prejudices, challenging our sense of
solidarity, probing the quality of our love and our faith. It makes us face who we really are.
In many small and countless ways, it is God's very self who is the visitor of our daily lives. When
we welcome strangers, feed people who are hungry, clothe those who are naked, visit those
who are sick, and imprisoned, then it is Christ himself whom we are welcoming. And we are
inevitably changed by that encounter. We become more compassionate, more willing to serve,
more ready to turn away from our sin, more gentle, more open to life, more able to listen, to
pray and to love. In short, we become more like the God we welcome. Such hospitality is not
simply sacred, it is life-giving both for us and for those we welcome.

Fr Joe