Cup of Cold Water
By Rev. Canon David B. Tabo-oy
40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. v41Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward. And whoever welcomes a good man because he is good, will share in his reward. v42You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.” Matthew 10: (24-39) 40-42
The verses of the gospel lesson appointed this 4th Sunday after Pentecost (Matthew 10:24-42) are full of interesting topics and powerful lessons to strengthen our Christian faith. The verses teach us whom to fear, rejecting or following Christ, true discipleship, and in the verses cited above, about kindness and rewards. And I would like to focus on the last verse for this week’s message. I like the way a Sunday School teacher interpreted in the level of the children’s understanding the lesson about the ‘cup of cold water’ in the last verse of the gospel lesson. The Sunday School teacher begins by asking, ‘How many of you think that you are a kind person?’ This question applies to all level of minds, gender and faith confession. Are you a kind person?
The teacher continues the lesson by explaining, ‘Being kind is a wonderful thing because everyone likes kind people. Kind people are good to people they know and also to people they do not know. Some people think they are kind but they are good only to their friends or to people who can help them. Kind people really do not live like this. They are the same to everyone. The Bible teaches us that Christians are kind people. Jesus taught all of his disciples to be kind people. It did not make any difference to Jesus if you lived next door or in another country, he taught us to be kind to everyone. Jesus did not care if you were black or white, red or yellow; you should be kind to all people. Jesus said that God knew and rewarded people for their love that they shared with each other.’
In this simple mind-of-a-child-level explanation we learn that kindness should transcend color, ethnicity, age, religious affiliation, social status and any other barrier set up by human-social standard.
It is sad yet inspiring to see kindness practiced in its true sense during this time of needs due to the pandemic. We see numerous acts of charity and kindness given by people to people whom they do not even know. Food packs and other assistance were given by individuals and families to the Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI) and stranded OFWs sleeping in the sidewalks and under the bridges in Metro Manila due to government neglect or inefficiency to assist them. Some of these ‘good Samaritans’ preferred to be anonymous. Prayers, praises and gestures of gratitude are pouring down upon the front-liners in appreciation to their heroic sacrifices in taking care of the virus infected patients and in containing the spread of COVID-19. These are the much-needed cups of cold water that somehow relieve the aching body, mind, and soul of the front-liners as they perform their hazardous duties. It is sad because such kindness is seldom seen during normal times. And then there is one moving scene I saw on one evening news. There is this security guard giving food and drink to an elderly living in the sidewalk. We all know that security guards receive just barely enough take home pay for their families yet this guard is kind enough to help even if it hurts. I do believe that such kindness is motivated by the saying: “Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver (Barbara DeAngelis).” Like our verse exhorts us, “You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.”
It is however despicable to see people instead of offering such ‘cup of cold water’ snatch it away from those desperately in need of it. We see this in operation with some barangay official not giving in full or even pocketing the Social Amelioration Fund intended for the economically deprived due to COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, some personnel of government agencies in charge of distribution of financial assistance makes access to this fund, for whatever reason, so complicated to reach those in dire need. Surely, they shall have their reward. Matthew tells us later, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty…. He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:44-46)
Let our kindness be motivated by this hymn inspired by the “Cup of Cold Water” verse.
Healing the widows and orphans in their needs,
Healing the sick ones and binding hearts that bleed,
Feeding the hungry this we must surely do.
By this we serve Him and demonstrate His love.
Cups of cold water, given in Jesus’ name,
Cups of cold water are never given in vain.
Someday in heaven when we meet the Lord,
Each deed of kindness will bring a rich reward.
Sharing the Gospel with sinners gone astray,
Holding the light up so they can find the way,
Lifting the fallen this we must surely do,
If to our calling as Christians we are true. (John W Peterson)
Let us pray.
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (ECP-BCP Proper 8 Collect)