God's universal and unconditional love extends through us to people who are marginalized
By Sister Jane Riha
The call of the readings for this Sunday is clearly inclusivity of all peoples. Jesus roamed the countryside many ages ago and included in his inner circle those who were marginalized and shunned. We are called to open our hearts and minds to those considered to be “foreigners” or “unacceptable.” Our Pope Francis is such a marvelous witness of this. During the World Youth Day in Portugal, he said this: “There is room for everyone in the church, and, wherever there is not, then, please make room, including for those who make mistakes, who fall or struggle.”
In Jesus' time, there was segregation, the insiders were the people of Israel and the outsiders were designated Gentiles. Even in those times, there was a movement for reconciliation through the advocacy of St. Paul. We have had so many experiences recently of prejudice and discrimination in our own land. Foreigners are desiring to come into our country. Each of these persons should be treated with dignity and respect. That is our call as Christians and witnesses of the Gospel.
The love of God is universal and unconditional. This is what the Scriptures reveal to us through Jesus’ own words and through the various stories of faith-filled persons. In 2000, the U.S. Catholic Bishops issued the document "Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity." A statement issued 23 years ago has relevancy for today as it continues to call forth conversion for all disciples of Jesus. The following are some quotes for reflection from that document:
“As Catholics we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding, ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst and enjoying the communion that is our destiny as Children of God.”
“Wherever the diverse cultures of a parish and diocese are able to share the Eucharist in special celebrations that reflect the cultural riches of the participants, the Church demonstrates in the sacrament of unity the multicultural face of the Church.”
“We call upon all people of good will, but Catholics especially, to welcome the newcomers in their neighborhoods and schools, in their places of work and worship, with heartfelt hospitality, openness, and eagerness both to help and to learn from our brothers and sisters of whatever religion, ethnicity, or background.”