The Gospel story of the three Magi holds great significance for us in today’s globalized society. It reminds us that we are one global human family. The magi were drawn by the light, sought out Jesus and were welcomed by Mary and Joseph. How have we welcomed others not of our same faith, ethnicity, or background?
Paul reminds us in this weekend’s scripture reading that Jesus has revealed to us that Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body of Christ through the Gospel. There are many places throughout scripture that speaks of including all who are foreign to us. My favorite parable is the Good Samaritan where Jesus is asked by the lawyer, who is his neighbor? After hearing the parable of the man beaten by robbers, left for dead and passed by two of the three travelers with only the Samaritan helping him, the lawyer replies that the neighbor was the one who showed mercy. This can be difficult when we fear the unknown. It is our primal fear, the natural instinct for self-defense that causes us to sometimes close the door on others in need. This paralyzes us from welcoming others as we protect what we have or what we feel entitled to without realizing this makes us intolerant. Pope Francis says in his encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti, “fear deprives us of the desire and the ability to encounter the other… love does not care if a brother or sister in need comes from one place or another. For love shatters the chains that keep us isolated and separate; in their place, it builds bridges.”
The Lord challenges us to remove the walls we build around us, so that we can include those who seek a better life fleeing from injustice and violence. We are living this choice now with individuals and families coming from Afghanistan ripped apart by war or from those on our southern border fleeing violence. Each traveler brings their unique gifts and talents. As ‘one nation under God,’ we are still a beacon of hope for others around us and outside our borders.
While we contemplate how we can welcome others different from ourselves, let us be reminded as servants of God that, “we cannot be indifferent to suffering; we cannot allow anyone to go through life as an outcast. Instead, we should feel indignant, challenged to emerge from our comfortable isolation and to be changed by our contact with human suffering. That is the meaning of dignity.” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti)