Jesus sends his disciples out into the world to heal, to minister, to bless, and to invite others into a relationship with God. He also illustrates to them what open hospitality truly means….
"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." -Matthew 10:40-42
Jesus sends his disciples off, knowing of course they will face much adversity and vehement resistance. So, he provides them with the ultimate incentive, which is that no one “will lose their reward” once they encounter the true joy that arises when freely sharing the love and peace of God. Whether one is the Giver or Receiver becomes irrelevant, because it is through the exchange of love that we heal and experience our inherent connection with one another and with the divine. But when we withhold or resist this exchange, we only deny ourselves this highest reward.
2020 is becoming an historical year, first beginning with a world wide pandemic that sent us swiftly to our knees. In facing this global health crisis, we learned that no one is above or immune to this non-discriminating virus. It viscerally brought home the notion that we are indeed “in this together.” There was a sudden new sense of regard for not just those closest to us, but also for our international neighbours. In one fell swoop we were all facing the same fears and challenges, and for many of us it awakened an awareness of our human commonalities in a way we had never experienced before. Then another devastating event took place that I do not believe is coincidental in its timing.
Although the pandemic highlighted our shared vulnerabilities, allowing us to feel as though we were and are in this together, the brutal murder of George Floyd caught on camera abruptly confronted us with a harsh and magnified view of the shadow aspects in human consciousness. Suddenly, we were forced as a culture to look in the mirror and acknowledge where hatred and prejudice still exist. One video turned on a light switch, and witnessing this unfold through the lens of one who (unknowingly) has been protected her entire life by all that “white privilege” entails, I could see exposed and in plain sight injustices that have long gone concealed and unnoticed under our watch. For many of us who are white and who have lived free from the unjust challenges that many of our brothers and sisters of colour experience every day, we became acutely aware of the fear that is keeping discrimination alive; fear that propels hateful acts and keeps us silent.
Speaking from the perspective of one who has always believed in justice and equality for all, and who also is not personally acquainted with anyone who doesn't feel similarly, I once questioned how systemic racism could possibly still persist. I know however, that hatred is always rooted in fear, and fear can build a momentum that drives us to act out unconsciously and sometimes in the most heinous ways. As a follower of Christ’s teachings, I believe in love’s profound energetic power and weight. However, we can be sure that where there is an absence of love, lurking in the recesses is fear. And what is fear?
I see fear as the emotional response to a gross misunderstanding of where true authentic power resides. Domination and suppression to elevate one’s self is the ego’s interpretation of power, but the only way to sustain it is to continue perpetuating the myth that we are all separate. The irony is that we actually disempower ourselves more when we remain divided, as we are biologically wired to need one another for survival – not just in the primal sense of our physical needs, but also in terms of emotional connection through warmth and affectionate regard.We need one another for many reasons, and on a societal level we are only now beginning to understand how living in a climate of fear-based separation actually hurts us all. Creation (including humanity) is only as healthy as our most broken places.
The confluence of these unprecedented events is catapulting us into a new world paradigm. It is creation cracking and breaking apart the foundational lie we have built our cultures on—the myth of scarcity. We are being urgently called to rebuild a new culture that aligns us with our life force lived out in love and compassion.
The archaic ideologies that groomed our cultures and societies were enforced by an egoic agenda of dominating oppression, segregation and exploitation. They are antithetical to Jesus's teachings. But we are beginning to awaken now and see that the only way for us to survive and thrive as a humanity is to take care of one another, and to cultivate in our hearts, minds and communities an ethos of unification, collaboration, love and acceptance. This enlightenment must now especially take root in the hearts of those of us who have benefitted most from our “white privilege,” and who have never endured pain and suffering because of the colour of our skin.
Jesus advocated for people whose voices were silenced and ignored. As people with priviledge, it is our responsibility, as followers of Christ and members of one human race, to speak out, advocate for and make way for the many voices that continue to go unheard by any means available to us. It is only when we can finally acknowledge that we are one—one body of Christ—that we align with our deepest power. In so doing, we become perfect conduits for God’s unlimited grace and blessings.
As Jesus says in this reading, when we welcome another, we welcome God. We connect to the divine through one another and through the exchange of love. No one has to lose. We are being called now to acknowledge the sacredness and holy intelligence in every aspect of creation, and to recognize that nothing divides us because we are unified in the love of the infinite. This is the love which Jesus professed as the ultimate “reward,” and which invites into our lives and communities the true kingdom of God.