Our first Scripture passage on this 2nd Sunday of Lent tells the story of the call of Abram. Abram is told to leave the land of his birth, trust God and travel into the unknown—“to a land that I will show you.” His is part of a broader story, found throughout the Bible, of movement and change as people and nations grow, mix, take on various characteristics and new relationships are formed. This is the gift of community. For example, in the Old Testament, the people of Israel, including Abram, find themselves wandering and sojourning in many places. In the midst, Israel is told to remember the sojourners and treat them with justice and compassion, as their own ancestors had been in the same situation. And in the New Testament, Jesus, the incarnate God, became a refugee while still an infant, fleeing with his parents to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. As an adult, Jesus became an itinerant preacher, wandering with his disciples from place to place, living at times by gleaning from fields those extras that the ancient law ordered left for such sojourners. The culture and history of the people of the Bible led to the presence of a stranger being seen as an opportunity—an opportunity to let God lead them into new relationships. Hospitality was the norm as was the sharing of one’s home and resources with strangers or sojourners. But it was also much more than that. Hospitality was an attitude of the heart, out of which such generous actions naturally flowed. This is the radical hospitality to which Jesus calls us. He calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, including those we might otherwise stereotype as enemies. While this active, inclusive hospitality involves significant costs and risks, Jesus asks us to accept those as part of the cost of discipleship. However, we ought not to do it out of fear, but out of the love that drives out fear.
This Lent, who is the stranger whom God calling me to welcome into my heart?
Lord, help me to courageously love the foreigner, sojourner, and even the enemy. Trusting in you, I am willing to let you lead me into new relationships.