July 2, 2023
Proper 8A/5th after Pentecost
Matthew 10:40-42 – in the wake of a series of bad decisions by the Supreme Court
It could hardly be clearer, could it?
What we do for others, or to them, matters.
When you welcome another, you welcome the Lord Christ.
If you welcome one who tells the truth about God, and about how we behave in God’s world; if you receive a prophet in the power, and with the authority of a prophet, you will receive the reward due to a prophet.
If you welcome a righteous person, in the power of, and with the authority of a righteous person – you will receive the reward due to a righteous person.
And if you give even a cup of water to “one of these little ones” – which means, one of the powerless ones who needs that cup of cold water – If you do it in the power of, and with the authority of a disciple – you will never lose your reward.
Instead, you will, by simply welcoming those whom God sends to you, as if they were God himself coming into your presence – as if Jesus himself were standing before you – you will receive the same reward that a prophet, or a righteous person, or a disciple would receive.
You will, in a sense, become a prophet, a righteous person or a disciple by doing that.
It isn’t difficult.
It’s not hard.
But it does mean paying attention.
And it means standing, once again, against the ways of the world to which we are accustomed – in which only SOME are welcomed.
And that means Christians ought to be appalled by the decisions handed down by the Court this week.
Unbelievers are free to be as racist, as selfish, and as blind as they wish.
But we are not.
The Supreme Court, fully aware that the reason the Navajo live on desert land in the first place where water is scarce and often contaminated, is because the American government forced them off their tribal lands and into that wasteland in the first place. In a treaty made in 1868 the government also promised water – enough to sustain life and allow for farming and ranching. But that promise has been broken – again, and again. And now. The Navajo nation requested that the Court order a federal assessment of its water needs and, potentially, to meet those needs with water from the Colorado River. The Court ruled last week that the government can avoid helping the Navajo secure the water they desperately need. White people in the surrounding states need that water for their lawns.
That same court decided that the affirmative action plans that had made higher education accessible to bright Black and other minority students for so many years was suddenly unconstitutional. Clarence Thomas himself wrote, in 1983, “God only knows where I would be if not for Affirmative Action.” He’s right. He was a poor student from a poor, rural, all-black area, who didn’t even speak English until he was seven – a Gichee Gulla child.
But he was smart. And Affirmative Action got him into Harvard.
This week Justice Clarence Thomas voted against extending that same opportunity to other competent minority students who are otherwise overlooked, unknown to the universities that would benefit from their presence…saying they were unfairly advantaged.
They did not rule against so-called, “legacy” admissions to elite schools who admit students regardless of academic standing so log as their parents attended those schools and can afford to pay large amounts for then to get in – 43% of white students at Harvard, for example, are “legacy” students. Who is actually being unfairly advantaged?
And then they decided that a Christian woman doesn’t have to design a website for a gay couple, citing her first amendment rights to free speech.
She didn’t want to have to advertise that she was willing to deal with gay persons.
But she doesn’t even have such a business.
She had no gay client couple who ever asked her to design a website for them. The one she named is a web designer himself, not gay, married for the last 15 years, and never contacted her.
She just wants to start such a business.
But they ruled in her favor anyway.
And then they decided that the president’s plan to ease student debt for millions of Americans was unconstitutional.
They did not determine that the millions of dollars in loans granted by Congress to businesses, loans which were forgiven – including loans to businesses operated by Congressional leaders themselves – was unconstitutional.
But the fact is, the original loans to students have often been repaid but students continue to pay on those loans because of exorbitant interest fees. And the banks had not even asked the courts to make this decision. They knew it wasn’t hurting them.
We need to oppose these moves that serve, again, only the interests of already advantaged people.
We need to vote against people who support them.
We need to speak up and work for justice, freedom and truth.
But we also need to be aware of who we welcome right here – right now – in to our homes, our personal spaces, and in our own lives.
Remember that a truth-teller is a prophet – even if, especially if, he or she makes you feel uncomfortable. Good teachers do. Good books do. Good challenges to understand things that are unfamiliar to us do – Welcome them.
When you do – YOU receive the same reward that the author, professor, challenger does – and as you learn, you will become what you have welcomed.
Remember that when you welcome a truly righteous person, and do not run away in shyness or embarrassment or shame, when you welcome her or him as a light that shines in your own darkness and invites you to become more than you are – or, perhaps, who you truly are – YOU receive the same reward as that saint! You become what the holy one is, a truly righteous one, simply by welcoming them in.
And if you give a poor person when he asks of you what you have it in your power to give – and if you think to give even before she asks – do it; do it as if you were a real disciple of the Lord Jesus who takes his words seriously all the time, and not a careful 21st century American.
Then you will suddenly find yourself rewarded for what you have done in the power and with the authority of a disciple, – and realize with a shock of joy that you have also become what you honor: a disciple.