Those who receive you are also receiving me, and those who receive me are receiving the one who sent me. Those who receive a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Those who receive a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. I assure you that everybody who gives even a cup of cold water to these little ones because they are my disciples will certainly be rewarded.
We have a saying in the Lindisfarne Community, “To be as Christ to those we meet; to find Christ within them.” I like to think that Jesus is saying the same thing here.
What if we stopped for a moment and looked at everyone like this? That is, what if we decided to see Jesus in the face of everyone we meet? And I do mean “everyone.” As it’s election time, that would include Democrats, Republicans, voters, non-voters, members of the House, members of the Senate, the President, etc.
I also mean gay people, straight people, women people, men people, children, “red, yellow, black, and white” people.
That, too, would mean, Muslim people, Jewish people, Buddhist people, Christian people, Pagan people, non-religious people, atheist people, and agnostic people.
And let’s not forget our neighbors and strangers and service or support people.
What if we stepped back for just a moment and looked at people and saw the face of Jesus?
We would have to look past our own issues; our own “...isms.” We’d have to look past their falseness, too. We would have to look past all of the “crud” to get to the “real” them.
Or would we?
When Jesus was “tried” and tortured and killed, he was pretty much covered in crud. And it’s in the midst of that crud that we see him.
In that hurt.
In that pain.
In the passage above, Jesus talks about giving someone a “cup of cold water.” To me, that means easing someone’s suffering. It’s a very hot day. A “scorcher,” as the saying goes. People have no water. No shade. No relief. They’re suffering in unbearable situations.
And someone offers them a “cup of cold water.”
Not a sip.
Not a spash.
Not hot water.
Not lukewarm water.
People are offered relief from their suffering. Jesus said that when we offer relief to another’s suffer, we’re offering that relief to him.
But let me go even further…
Let’s also be intentional about alleviating suffering and not just easing it. Let’s be about finding out what’s causing the suffering and working to end it.
And this doesn’t just mean for people. I believe that Jesus’ meaning extends to all life — non-humans and the planet, too.
We have gotten so far of course it seems. We tend to be more concerned about how uncomfortable we’ll be if we give up some things (or get too involved) instead of putting an end to unsustainable practices. As long as we get our steak or bacon, we’re not too concerned about the torture and trauma animals suffer.
Nor do we seem too concerned about the destruction of our wild places. Whether it’s deforestation or toxic pollution in our water, as long as we can maintain our current lifestyle, we’re happy.
But the call to follow Jesus isn’t about living a happy, comfortable life. The calling to follow Jesus is one of self-sacrifice. It’s the call of denying oneself in the service of others (Matthew 16.24).
But notice what happens when we serve others — we connect to the Unity within all things. That is, as Jesus said above, we serve him when we serve others. And when we serve him, we serve G‑d. Therefore, when we put aside our own ego’s we’re tapping into the Life within all life. When we serve others, we’re adding ourselves to the great golden thread that connects all life.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC