Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction. You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.
If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”
In the last couple of years, my ministry has grown to include refugees. I am certain of my duty as a Christian to welcome and befriend them. This is made abundantly clear in this reading from Exodus. So, it saddens me, when out of fear or prejudice, people forget this duty, and the fact that many who came to our country were similarly displaced. Refugees are those whose home has become inhospitable. And we must understand, as the poet Warsan Shire writes, “No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”
Jesus says, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Throughout the Gospel, Jesus was offering hospitality to tax collectors, sinners, foreigners and strangers. I am increasingly convinced that one of our greatest calls in these days is to risk and rejoice in just this kind of radical hospitality.
—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.
Dear God, lover of widows, orphans, strangers, and the poor, give us the courage to practice the radical hospitality that you called the Jewish people to, and which was modeled by your son Jesus, who welcomed the outcast and taught us to do the same. Give us the courage to open our homes to the poor and needy. Help us to overcome fear, so as to respond to the needs of those who come to us fleeing oppression and terror. May those who have had their home taken from them find a home in our hearts, our homes, and our communities. Teach us, like you, to boldly love those whom others would exclude. Amen.
—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ