“Jesus made the crowds welcome…”
People flocked to Jesus.
He was a figure who was ultimately intriguing and was for many of his contemporaries, as he is for us today a source of fascination. No doubt the miracles he worked, like that recounted in today’s Gospel reading, or the great many miracles of healing that he performed, were big drawcards, but beyond this, there are many accounts which tell of the magnificent attraction of  Jesus’ words and his mere presence.
When we think, though, of Jesus and his message, we are often perplexed at how someone can say such weighty things, and get away with it.
But the opening lines of today’s Gospel are in this case very telling for us. He made the crowds welcome’, before going on to talk to them about the kingdom of God.
So often our experience of the Catholic or more broadly Christian faith is one of rules and regulations, of neatly packaged propositions or nuggets of truth which believers are forced to swallow. When we think, though, about the person of Jesus, as the way, the truth, and the life, we see a man who was not intent of forcing philosophical concepts onto the people, nor was he fixated on the following of rules.
What he came to offer was a freedom hitherto unknown in the world: a freedom from sin and death. This freedom comes about though through some pretty difficult modes, often requiring self-surrender and self-gift. It is here where Jesus’ gentle and welcoming nature is most affective – opening the hearts of those who were there such that the message he spoke could land on the fertile soil of their hearts.

For us today, who have been commissioned by Jesus [Mt 28:16-20] to teach others about and invite them into the Kingdom of God, we should take a leaf out of his book. To be firstly welcoming of those who are searching. And then, we must not fail to share with them the great gift of which we are recipients.

On the reception of guests
(taken from the Rule of St Benedict)
‘Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, 
for He is going to say, 
“I came as a guest, and you received Me” (Matt. 25:35).
And to all let due honor be shown,
especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims…
In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received;
for as far as the rich are concerned,
the very fear which they inspire
wins respect for them.’