One fateful day, a homeless man approached a lady on a busy street in Manhattan, New York and asked for a quarter of a dollar. She was willing to give him something more, but she could not find her wallet. The lady instantly realizes that she has been robbed by some street urchins as her handbag remains unzipped. The homeless man sees her frustration and tapping her on the shoulder; he asked her how much it would cost her to go home. The lady tries to dismiss the question with a “don’t worry attitude” but the man insists, and she says, “just $20”.
Surprisingly, the beggar brings out all the money in his pocket, and after counting, it comes up to $25, and he gives $20 to the lady and offers to help her with one of her bags to the subway where she would board a train. The beggar’s overwhelming kindness baffles the woman, and before she boards the train she requests for a hug from the man, and she gets a good one.
While on the train, the lady starts to feel guilty for accepting the money from the old man. She keeps wondering where the man would sleep that night as she heads home to the comfort of her home; thanks to a homeless beggar. She gets home and through the whole evening, she ponders on the kindness of the homeless man.
Few days after the event, after sorting out her cards and other documents, she goes to search for the man but could not find him. The extraordinary kindness of the homeless beggar prods her to seek for a volunteer work with an organization that assists the homeless in New York City.
After some months, the organization appoints the lady to head a team that would search for a genuine homeless person among the lot in New York City who would receive a special housing facility and provision from the organization. Her mind goes to the homeless beggar that helped her, and she prays that she finds him.
The lady w as on her way to the train station the same day when someone approaches her for a quarter of a dollar. Guess who? Well, you can imagine what happened afterwards. The homeless man who helped the lady to get home became a home owner; his good work made way for him.
There is something about good works the liturgy of today wants us to learn. St. James reminds us about the importance of good works when he says that faith without good works is dead (James 2:14-26).
The First Reading today (2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a) tells us about a couple who finds favor with God through their selfless provision for Elisha the prophet of God. From the narrative, we could see that their charity towards Elisha was not in anticipation for an immediate reward; they were simply compassionate and hospitable to the man of God.
The unassuming couple did not bug the prophet about the lack in their family. They were more interested in the comfort and needs of the prophet. By divine direction, Elisha discovers during his interaction with his servant Gehazi that the couple has a need for a son and he gives this divine oracle to the woman: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”
In the Gospel Reading today (Matt. 10:37-42), our Lord Jesus Christ takes the time to dwell on some characteristics of genuine discipleship. He begins by saying that anyone who loves father, mother, son or daughter more than him is not worthy of him.
Our Lord’s first instruction here does not tell us to hate our family as it may appear. The instruction says that we should love Christ in people around us starting with our family. Our love for Christ begins with our Love for one another. St. John tells us that we cannot say we love God and hate our neighbor (1 John 4:20). Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that our entrance into heaven depends on our love and benevolence to people around us (Matt. 25:40).
In the later part of the Gospel, our Lord deepens the instruction on good works. He makes it clear that every good work would be rewarded. When we open our arms to people, we are at the same time opening our arms to God. When we receive people, we are receiving God. When we provide for those who work in God’s vineyard, we are “providing for God.”
Our good works could open great doors for us. Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek, the priest gained blessings for him (Gen. 14:20; Heb.7:1-2). Furthermore, his hospitality to “three men” who were passing through his neighborhood became the key that opened the womb of his wife Sarah to give birth to Isaac. (Genesis 18:1ff). Rahab and her household were spared during the destruction of Jericho for her good deed of hiding the spies who came to survey the land of Jericho (Joshua 2).
Peter and his companions receive a great catch of fish and become disciples after donating their boat to serve as a platform for our Lord Jesus Christ to preach (Luke 5:1-11). Five thousand men (excluding women and children) were fed through a little boy’s donation of five loaves of bread and two fish. I imagine he received part of the remaining twelve baskets (John 6:8-9).
The word of God says that silver and gold belong to God (Haggai 2:8). Hence, whenever we engage in doing any good work, we invariably give back to God. As our good works speak for us, our evil works would, in turn, speak against us. Life is all about sowing and reaping whatever we sow.
When we give, we receive even a full measure pressed down and running over (Luke 6:38). As we march into the new week, may we focus on good works. Those good works of ours would eventually plead for us before God’s throne of mercy; do not get tired of doing good; you will receive your reward.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16).
I wish you glorious days ahead.