This weekend at Mass, I found myself having an extreme moment of humility as I was listening to the readings and the gospel and Father give the homily on the topic of HOSPITALITY. I definitely would consider myself someone with a bleeding heart for the sick and the lonely. If I see an elderly gentleman or woman sitting by themselves in a restaurant, my mind will create an entire life story for them. I’ll find myself smiling at them across the restaurant so they might feel included. There is an older man in my neighborhood with a long beard that is always at the pool that no one will talk to. I even have heard little kids calling him the “strange man” before. I always smile at him and say “hello”. I just don’t ever want strangers to feel like strangers, I guess.
In the Gospel reading this Sunday, I heard these words:
“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.” (Matthew 10: 42)
For some reason, when I heard this verse, I immediately felt like I was not living my discipleship life correctly. I was letting my own feelings of judgment become projected on those who "mistreated' me. I knew I had been going about things a little sideways and it was time to pray and reflect on these relationships and how to move them forward. To be honest, I felt a big fat eye roll come out of me from my gut. “He’s talking about the people I don’t want to be nice to, isn’t he?” UGH.
In this Gospel of Matthew Chapter 10, Jesus is teaching the Apostles what it actually means to be a disciple. He is teaching them that the structure of the family must change. He must be FIRST priority over all other relationships. We must place Him first in order to find real peace. This is the second time I have heard about this structure of relationship in the family needing to be different than what I had previously considered “right.” Especially as a woman, I tend to care for everyone else and then worry about my own relationships, even my one with the Big Guy. It’s time to flip that on its head. Big G first, errryyyyyyybody else second.
There are certain CLOSE relationships in my life that I have not been doing this at all. I have been allowing my own hurt, self-entitlement, and thoughts about how I feel I should be treated get in the way of truly being a disciple to those who probably need it most. Yes, I am always kind to strangers, but what about the people closest to me? I had let the mistakes (in my opinion, they were mistakes, but maybe to them, they thought they were going about things the right way), harden my heart and allow me to become bitter towards them. “I’m done” I said about the relationship. What I really meant was, I’m done putting my heart out there for my OWN feelings of belonging and self-worth. I’m done trying to be friends with someone who doesn’t want any sort of relationship with me at all. I was going about this relationship with a “What’s in it for me?” mentality- if I helped them, what would the return reward be? Friendship? Compliments? Gratitude? Returned favors?
These are the action steps I am currently working on this week to help to solve this turmoil within my OWN heart so I can find myself as a disciple and them as a disciple and you as a disciple. We are the same. We all need to feel loved and to be given just a small cup of water.
- Pray/Meditate on my feelings of hurt.
- Make a list of 10 things I admire in the other person
- Sweat for those who I don’t feel deserve my hospitality (or love). They, in fact, need it the most.