Monday of the First Week of Advent
My dad’s parents emigrated from Austria. Like so many immigrants, they moved to a new land that offered more promise: better work, more food, safety, freedom, opportunity. With welcome and support from their new communities here, they thrived.
Our Judeo-Christian faith history is filled with the stories of people who left their homes to escape war, persecution, and famine, in search of a better place to live. What was true thousands of years ago continues to be true today: We all want to live where we and our families can prosper and grow.
Today’s first reading talks about how people from all nations will flock to the new Jerusalem. But the Lord imposes terms. There is a cost: beat swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks. For those accustomed to battling and defending themselves, this must have seemed too risky, too high a cost for many. But others responded as described in today’s responsorial psalm: “I rejoiced because they said to me, ‘We will go up to the house of the Lord’”.
Immigrants continue to rejoice when the opportunity for a better life presents itself, despite the risk and cost. Many come to the United States, to Minnesota, to our community here at St. Thomas.
How shall we treat them, these immigrants who are starting a new life? These people who may look different, speak a different language, have different beliefs and ways of doing things?
Today’s gospel gives us insight.
Jesus is approached by a centurion who informs him that his servant is sick. This was not an immigrant, but rather an enemy, an officer in an occupying army.
Yet Jesus offered to go and cure the servant, to provide help where it was needed.
During this Advent season, I am mindful of three decisions I face, which will require courage, and will both benefit me and exact a cost from me:
Will I choose to be an immigrant and seek out the house of the Lord?
Will I welcome Jesus into my heart and life?
Will I welcome immigrants into my heart and life, provide help where it is needed?
Director, Counseling and Psychological Services