To Become Neighbor to the Stranger

Christianity means radical hospitality, for we follow a God Who divests Himself of everything in order to welcome each of us into the Kingdom. I won't draw out the current political implications in detail here, but welcoming the stranger is one of the absolute imperatives laid upon each Christian. Yes, there are political mediations to work through, but the impulse and imperative is so essential to Christianity, it won't ever be a matter of making excuses why we can't welcome the stranger: the pressure, within each Christian heart, will always be towards how we can welcome more.

These reflections are sparked by today's beautiful matins reading from Saint Philip Neri:

"The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything.

"This is a great truth, that He ascended above all heavens, yet is near to those on earth. Who is this stranger and neighbor if not the One Who became our neighbor out of compassion?

"The man lying on the road, left half-dead by robbers, the man treated with contempt by the priest and the levite who passed by, the man approached by the passing Samaritan to take care of him and help him, that man is the whole human race. When the immortal One, the Holy One, was far removed from us because we were mortal and sinners, He came down to us, so that He, the stranger, might become our neighbor."

The religion of the universal Redeemer is cosmopolitan, and presses always, even in the littlest matters, towards realization of the City of universal reconciliation.

Saint Philip Neri, pray for us!