BY: Fr. Johnbosco Obika


1. 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
2. Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
3. Matthew 10:37-42

I remember as a seminarian an incident of how a family who had two rooms apartment squeezed themselves into one room in order to make the other room available for me for six weeks because I was sent to do an apostolic work in that community. They discomforted themselves in order to make me comfortable. As I watched them take care of me I knew heaven had a response for their good deeds. The first reading of today highlights the reward of those who open their generous heart to servants of God and by extension to all children of God.

The gospel reading goes on to maintain that it is God whom we receive when we receive his servants and his children.

The reading tells us how the wealthy woman of Shunem always invite Elisha to eat whenever he was passing. She did not stop at that, she approached her husband and requested that they arrange a room for Elisha in their house. This is not because of any other reason but for the very fact that Elisha is a prophet of God. Later Elisha asked his servant, “Can something be done for her?” The answer was, “Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.” Elisha prophesized: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.” This is a response to the generosity shown to them by the Shunemite.

There is always a response from heaven for every act of kindness we show to others especially for the sake of God. When Abraham received the three men walking under the scorching heat of the sun at the oak of Mamre, the response from heaven was “By this time next year you shall carry a son” (Genesis 18). When the widow of Zarephath received Elijah and offered him the last of her wheat and oil, the response from heaven was ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ (1 Kings 17:7–16).

All of us no matter what we have and who we are are always in want of one thing or the other, either basic human necessities and basic spiritual needs. All of us too are not free from the problems of life, it’s either we are coming out of problem or we are into one or we are about to enter into one. The Shunemite couple had everything, were very rich but had no son. They had their own share of human predicament.They were sensitive to the needs of Elisha, not knowing that it was going to be the beginning of their blessing. Their generosity drew heavenly attention to their family.

The spirit of generosity calls for sensitivity on the side of the giver and receiver. Today, God is calling us to be sensitive to the needs of others. The Shunemites were sensitive to the needs of the prophet and responded accordingly. The prophet was also sensitive to the need of the woman and her husband. We should not allow people to cry and shed tears for us before we could help. Being sensitive also implies that we should not be a burden to those who are helping us. Instead of being a burden to the host family, Elisha rather to contributed to their well-being, he started by asking “what can we do?”

God is the first and ultimate giver. He gave us Jesus who gave us himself as spiritual food and drink. God also gave us the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus. The Holy spirit gave his many gifts and the fruits of the Spirit. Saint Paul in the second reading recalls that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for our salvation and has made us one with him through baptism. By baptism, we welcome Christ in our lives. But we must also see Christ in others as well especially the needy and welcome them too. Jesus in the gospel makes it clear that even a cup of water given to these ones for his sake is given to him who lives in them.

All we have and posses comes from God; we cannot boast of them, we can only boast of the giver who is God. In his letter to Timothy, St. Paul writes: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1st Timothy 6:17). St. Paul is not referring only to “the rich” but to everyone because no one is too poor not to give and no one is too rich not to receive. We all have something to offer.

The first and greatest gift we receive when we give is divine joy that comes from the fact that we have helped others. May we experience this joy always for helping others and may heaven respond to our act of kindness to others.

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