Sunday’s Readings | 5 Pentecost, July 2
“Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness” (Matt. 9:35). “Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness” (Matt. 10:1). What Jesus did, we do in gestures of healing and compassion, acts of kindness, careful listening, and words of liberation. The world is an expansive mission field for healing, and there is so much good work to do. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38).
We do well to ask the Lord how we may be a blessing to the world, how and in precisely what way, small or great, we may bring Christ’s healing love to a broken and hurting world. How may we be a blessing to our family, friends, and neighbors, even, as Jesus would insist, to our enemies?
If we are agents of Christ’s healing love to others, then it must also be the case that other people are the agents of Christ’s love toward us. Other people are instruments of righteousness toward us, agents of our sanctification. (Rom. 6:12-18). Thus, mission is not only what we do for the good of others but the good we receive. Perhaps we recite Jesus’ insight too often: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). If there is giving, there must be receiving. So, blessed are those who receive good gifts from others, who allow themselves to be recipients of blessings they could not otherwise know.
When we receive from others, we allow ourselves to be welcomed into the circle of their kindness. In this way, we become a gateway to their deeper experience of God, although, in such an exchange of love, God may never be mentioned. Consider these words of Jesus: “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Matt. 10:40).
It is strange to consider that we may bless others by allowing them to bless us. We may lead another person to Christ our Lord and to his Father simply by accepting, passively and gratefully, the goodness and kindness they offer.
In my household, today is a high holy day called “Dr. Ballard Day.” Thirteen years ago, I lost consciousness in the middle of a workday. After several hours of scans and speculation, Dr. Ballard told me they didn’t know what was wrong with me and that he would have to do exploratory abdominal surgery. I was bleeding internally, and it took him over an hour to find the cause, a splenic aneurysm. I survived, though I coded three times during surgery. For weeks, I could do nothing but accept the care and kindness of others. While hospitalized, I was diagnosed with a blood disorder that likely caused the aneurysm. I take my medication and gratefully comply with my doctors. And my wife and I always remember that Dr. Ballard saved my life.
In my passivity, I was — incredibly — helping the doctors, nurses, and countless others who helped me. They welcomed me into their care. So, they could not but also come into the fellowship of Christ and his Father in the love of the Holy Spirit that unites them.
We are all, to a large extent, not so much what we have done or accomplished but a constellation of the good we have received from the hands of others. Accepting such care is giving God to the world.
Look It Up: Psalm 89:1
Think About It: Your love (from others), O Lord, forever will I sing.