As disciples of Christ our affinity shouldn’t be restricted to a particular place/people but should stretch “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The entire world is our home and family (Gal. 6:10). Christ comes into the world as a stranger to shatter our confines of family (Matt. 10:35-36). Right from the beginning we see that the people of God is a displaced community. This is so because our God doesn’t prefer to dwell in concrete immovable mansions but wills to pitch tent (σκηνόω – skenoo – John 1:14) and dwell among us. He is a sojourning God.
The Church through today’s Gospel lection (Matt. 2:19-23) reminds us that our Lord Jesus Christ was a refugee. We welcomed him by slamming doors on his face when he was in his mother’s womb by giving her no space to deliver her child. This Jesus, who had to face shut doors even before his birth, grows up and says to the world, “I am the door of the sheep.” The statement “I am the door” itself is so beautiful however the beauty of this saying intensifies when someone like Jesus who has faced utter rejection in all walks of life says so. Through this, Christ teaches us that the scars of our past shouldn’t be allowed to infringe on the possibilities of our present.
We as the Church are expected not to be xenophobic but render hospitality to strangers including migrants and refugees. This is the vivid expression of what the Church is. As Stanley Hauerwas remarks; “The church not only welcomes the stranger, but is the stranger, constituted as she is entirely by migrants, herself a migrant through the world.”
Furthermore, such a radical inclusion of strangers in the fold of our family upends the prevailing world order that constructs walls to exclude and discriminate against people. Therefore Walter Brueggemann writes; “To welcome the stranger is to challenge the social arrangements that exclude and include. Thus any serious welcome of a stranger is a gesture that ‘unsettles’ the power arrangements to which we have become accustomed.”
Dayroyo Fr. Basil
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