In this coming Sunday’s gospel reading Jesus reminds us of the importance of showing respect, courtesy and hospitality toward other believers. He also reminds us that those who do so will be rewarded for their efforts — if not here on this earth, then most certainly in eternity. But, as we all know, Jesus didn’t limit charity to believers only. In the mind of our Savior, every human person is to be loved and respected: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.”
The same message is found in our first reading from 2 Kings 4: this story of Elisha the prophet and the childless Shunammite woman. She showed courtesy and hospitality to the prophet by welcoming him into her home whenever he happened to be traveling in the area. And God, in his mercy, rewarded her for her many acts of charity by blessing her with a son. The promise Elisha made to her at the end of the story was, indeed, fulfilled.
The lesson contained in these Scriptures is one that every American needs to learn and embrace, especially in the midst of the current social chaos we’ve been experiencing recently across the nation. Respect, courtesy and hospitality have been rejected by many of our citizens in recent weeks, only to be replaced by the corrosive power of anger and hatred and violence.
It’s truly providential that we will celebrate our nation’s birthday in just a few days. The United States was founded on the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal” and that they have certain God-given “unalienable rights” regardless of the color of their skin, the job they have — or any other personal characteristics they may possess.
This truth, unfortunately, is no longer “self-evident” — at least to a significant number of Americans. If we want to restore peace and order to our country, that fact needs to change.
And it needs to change soon.