“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Mt 10:8).
We cannot buy the grace of God, we do not earn our way into the kingdom of heaven. God’s grace and presence are freely given, without cost and without our effort. As with any gift, the joy and fulfillment come from the willingness to receive and open the gift.
God has given us the gift of his Son. We have the choice to say yes or no to receiving him in our life, each and every moment, each and every day. When we say yes to receiving Jesus into our life he does not come to dwell with us for our sake alone, we are invited to freely share him with others. The Second Vatican Council renewed this call for evangelization. We are to, as did the Apostles, his disciples, and each following generation, say what he said, do what he did, and live how he lived, yet in our own unique and individual expression. Just like a bright light that shines through a prism, depending of the unique angle of the cut, a different color will emanate forth. Just so are we to be, reflecting the light of God in our daily experiences with our own unique color.
We say what Jesus said when we use our words to empower, affirm, heal, and to convict but not condemn. We do what Jesus did: when we build relationships and engage in respectful encounters and dialogue with one another. This also happens when through our acts of hospitality, mercy, forgiveness, healing, and being present, we attend to the needs of others, especially the most vulnerable in our midst.
We are to live as Jesus did. We are to be holy ourselves in every aspect of our conduct, as St. Peter wrote, “for it is written, ‘Be holy because I [am] holy’” (cf. 1 Peter 1:15-16). We begin to grow in holiness when we recognize, repent, choose no longer to be governed by, and seek healing from our own fears, pride, selfish and ego-centered ways of living. We grow in holiness when we say yes to receiving the gift of the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit to come into our lives to purge us from our indifference and fears so that we become aflame with love. In this way, we will shift our posture from the stiff arm of keeping others at a distance and instead open our arms wide to embrace each other, to love one another by giving of ourselves without cost.
Sr. Norma Pimentel, M.J., executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, provides an example for us today of how we can live a life dedicated to “giving without cost”. She has allowed Jesus to minister through her as an advocate for the voiceless along the Texas/Mexico border. Sister Norma has been working with asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees since the 1970’s by providing welcome, hospitality, and shelter, showing those seeking aid, that hope is still possible and that Jesus does care for their plight. Sr. Norma reflected recently on the beginning of her vocation by stating that, “During those first years of my religious formation, I quickly learned the importance of living out our faith by how we welcome and protect those that need us, especially the vulnerable stranger in our midst.”
Jesus may or may not be calling us to the border, but he is inviting all of us to be open to receive the gift of the touch of his embrace, to be loved by him. In our willingness to receive the gift of his love, we will begin to see each other with his eyes, to see each other as human beings, created in the image and likeness of his Father. Jesus is calling us to love each other, to draw close as he has done with us, and accompany one another and see the value of human dignity in each person.
We cannot be indifferent to the cries of the vulnerable and the poor. We may be called to work for an end to the abhorrent and inhumane treatment of our brothers and sisters on our southern border, to stand up and speak out against racial injustice in all of its overt and covert forms, to speak up for the unborn, or the many ways human dignity has been diminished. Each of us are to construct our own unique bridges of encounter and accompaniment helping to restore dignity where it has been taken. “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Mt 10:8).
Photo: Sister Norma with Zuleyka, Lucrecia, and Camilo Lopez, Guatemala taken by Peter Yang, accessed from Texasmonthly.com