A Lenten thought for February 18, 2016, by Barb Pine
I am working on bringing a foreigner, an alien, to our land. Elario Zambakari, three months old when his father was beheaded by Muslim militia; six years old when his government bombed his town and turned him into a Sudanese Lost Boy, eleven years old when finally he finished running from country to country and settled as an orphan in Uganda, sixteen years old when he and his mother discovered that the other was alive but separated by government policies and a vast ocean. He is thirty-two years old and an ordained Roman Catholic Priest this year as he waits and I work on the hellish forms required by the United States to bring him, a foreigner, an alien, to America. I pray daily that until he is allowed to leave, that he can dodge bullets flying in the town where he was born and where he now serves the Church.
How hard is this:
Leviticus 19:33f “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Here are the questions that come to my mind as I carry this verse around today:
- Most important: How do we who have airplanes and ships and access to the world define “Land.” God gave the Israelites a “land.” But Jesus expanded responsibility by saying, “Go into all the world . . .” In this historical period of world awareness are we to be nationalist or globalist?
- “Stranger” Someone unfamiliar, unlike me, from a different global, or theological, or political, or ethical, or moral, or tribal . . . treat him/her like I treat the native, that is, one ‘like’ me? How hard is that?
- Love him. I’m glad God didn’t say, “Hate his sin but love that sinning stranger.” Rather, Love him, you know, like you love yourself, which is mostly (if we are mentally healthy) dripping with graciousness and understanding, and tolerance, and acceptance, and a very readiness, eagerness, hopefulness, to spent yet another day and another and one after that, in my/his-her company.
This is no small thing, this notice that a stranger, a foreigner, an alien is in our midst.