RCL Year A Proper 8 Alternate Readings
Jeremiah 28:5-9, Psalm 89:1-4 and 15-18, Romans 6:12-23, Saint Matthew 10:40-42

The Gospel today, just three verses, turns a corner in Jesus’ mission and ministry. He has gathered his twelve disciples—occasionally referring to them as apostles—and commissioned them. He tells them what to expect and how to go about their ministry. And in the Gospel today he does a remarkable thing.

And that remarkable thing is this. He says to them, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me.”[1] He equates the effect the disciples have on people to the effect Jesus himself has on people. And then he equates the effect Jesus himself has on people to the effect God has on people, “Whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me”[2]

Then he talks about people who receive a prophet in the name of a prophet receiving a prophet’s reward. And he does the same thing with a righteous person, “Whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous.”[3]

I have combed these first two verses finely in order to make a forceful point. Jesus does not say this, but he sets it up completely, “Whoever welcomes you receives the reward of God.”

And I would say to you that the Scriptures tell us of nothing greater than the reward of God. God has nothing greater to give.

Every day of our lives, we can touch the reward of God. Our will to receive Jesus, our will to receive those whom he sends, puts the reward of God within reach. There is nothing beyond that reward to ask or to desire. We are free to exercise our will, our agency, to receive those whom God sends and thus to receive the reward of God.

If God is infinite, so too is God’s reward. The story of the apostles’ ministry is the story of their receiving God’s reward and of some of the people receiving God’s reward. But some do not.

Some make a different choice. But they are free to choose. Let us hope and let us pray that with the apostles “we may be made a holy temple acceptable to”[4] God.

[1] Saint Matthew 10:40.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Saint Matthew 10:41.

[4] BCP, page 230.