In the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ injunction for Christian discipleship was told in the form of a parable entitled the Judgment of the Nations.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25: 31-46)
In this image of judgment, the separation between the righteous and the wicked boils down to acts of kindness, charity, and justice. Jesus makes it clear that caring for those who are considered least among us (because of their economic, social, or political locations) is synonymous with caring for God. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Conversely, failure to care for “these least ones” – not welcoming the stranger, not feeding the hungry, not clothing the naked, not visiting or caring for the sick and imprisoned – is tantamount to a rejection of God.
Today, our country is faced with a moral dilemma of epic proportions. President Donald Trump has recently enacted a series of executive actions that would effectively limit the entrance of vulnerable peoples into our country by curtailing immigration from certain mostly-Muslim nations and through the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Additionally, President Trump signed another executive action that calls for an “extreme vetting” to the already extreme vetting process for refugees.
We must take a stand and denounce such un-Christian policies. Just as Jesus was denied when the stranger was not welcomed, so too today, Jesus is still being denied. When we close off our borders and refuse to share the excesses of our wealth with those whose lives hang in the balance we close off our home to Christ. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus was a stranger, but he still is a stranger today – present in our immigrant, migrant, and refugee brothers and sisters.
The #IamaStranger Campaign seeks to stress the present-tense nature of this Christian injunction for justice. Jesus is still a stranger, still an immigrant, still a migrant, and still a refugee. “I am a Stranger and you did not welcome me.” As Br. Javier of Mexico said, “Today they persecute us; tomorrow they will persecute you, and who is going to raise the voice for you? Remember, we all are strangers on this planet!”
So far, several religious and lay partners have already participated in calling attention to the fact that we too are strangers. Whether we are men or women, lay or religious, white or people of color, immigrants or U.S. citizens, we stand in solidarity with all of our immigrant, migrant, and refugee brothers and sisters who are increasingly made to feel un-welcome in this country.
We welcome them because we are one in the same. We welcome them because we know that in doing so, we are welcoming Christ.
To join the campaign, click here. Also, please make the posts public. If we can’t see it, it won’t be impactful.