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Weekly Devotionals

The Other

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:34

In the book of Leviticus we have the record of the laws that God gave the Israelites via Moses. It certainly makes for an interesting read, and is very confusing at times to our modern and globalized mindsets. But there is a continual refrain in Leviticus we find about treating the vulnerable with kindness, generosity, and protection.

In this verse, God reminds the Israelites that they were once foreigners and slaves. Having felt the pain and shame of being enslaved and ‘foreign’, the Israelites were to empathize with those who were suffering, and then to do the opposite to the stranger among them- treat them as a native, and love them as yourself.

Jesus’ famous parable of the Good Samaritan harmonizes with this command, where we see the stranger (the Samaritan) acting neighborly and loving towards the wounded man. In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25), Jesus says to the righteous “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” Jesus then states “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Author and theologian C.S Lewis wrote “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses”. I think this quote has a wonderful depth of truth for three reasons. First, it calls attention to the greatest commandment to love our neighbor. Second, it reminds us that our neighbor also bears the image of God, and is a person for whom Christ died for. And third, it captures the meaning of the word ‘holy’, which can simply mean ‘Utterly Other’.

Another word for a stranger is simply ‘The Other’. Scripture shows us that, either as member of the majority or the minority, righteousness requires us to love The Other.

During this advent season, may your eyes be open to see the strangers and others in your midst, and to treat them with honor, respect, and love.