HOMILY for September 09, 2018 Mark 7:31-37 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
A young Jewish student went to his rabbi teacher with this question: “Rabbi, how can we tell the exact moment when the night has ended and the day has begun? Is it when the light is strong enough so we can no longer see the stars in the sky?” “No,” the rabbi replied. “That is not how we can tell the night has ended and the day has begun.” So the student persisted. “Well, then, is it when we can first see the ball of the sun rising on the horizon?” “No,” the rabbi again responded, “That is not how we can tell the night has ended and the day has begun.” The student was now obviously perplexed, so he asked the rabbi, “How then can we tell the exact moment when the night is over and the day has begun?” Speaking softly, the rabbi replied, “We know the night has ended and the day has begun when we can look into the face of a stranger and recognize that he is our brother. Then, and only then, is the night ended and the day begun.”
With our Loving God, there is no night. There is only the brightness and light of the day. When God looks at us, God never sees a stranger, an alien, an illegal. God sees only a much cherished child, no matter the color of skin, the slant of eye, the language spoken, or the kind of clothes worn. There is nothing in us, nothing about us, that our loving God does not see, does not know, does not fully understand.
Even on our worst days, God continues to love us unabashedly, unconditionally, divinely! Yes, with our Loving God, there is only the light of day. But with us, it's different. With us, there is, unfortunately, the stranger, the foreigner, the illegal. But this God of ours is calling us to embrace the stranger, the foreigner, the illegal as our sister and brother, the work of God's own hands, the people whom God has called, as God calls all creation, “good!” When we recognize this goodness in ourselves and in each other, then has light arrived, the night is finished, and we can truly see what is.
God's cherishing of us is surely a comfort and a healing for our troubled world. But more than that. God's so cherishing us all is our mandate: “Love each other as I have loved you!” With a gracious hospitality God welcomes each and all inside a circle of love. God leaves no one outside that circle. God asks us to do the same, to make the welcoming of strangers an important part of our own lives. Jesus gives us one example of a life devoted to helping and healing strangers in today's Gospel. Then he addresses us: “As I welcome you into my life, so must you welcome each other into your lives and call no one “stranger.”
So we bow our heads in prayer. God, help us realize that with You there is no night. Grant us the grace of ending the darkness of night in our lives. In your light, may we look upon each others faces and recognize them as our sisters and brothers – all created by You, our Loving God. May we welcome them, assist and support them, and yes, cherish them just as You cherish us all. For then, and only then, will the night be over and the day begin. AMEN!