The Glory of God and the Alien
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
17 lYou shall not deprive the resident alien or the orphan of justice, nor take the clothing of a widow as pledge. 18 For, remember, you were slaves in Egypt, and the LORD, your God, redeemed you from there; that is why I command you to do this. Dt 24:17–18 NABRE
43 yThe resident aliens among you will rise above you higher and higher, while you sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, not you to them. They will become the head, you the tail. Dt 28:43–44 NABRE
This song sets a standard; it helps us understand what Christmas is all about. It contains the key word, which, in our time especially, commands people’s interest more than just about anything else: peace. The biblical term shalom, which is usually so translated, implies much more than the absence of armed conflict; it means the right order of human affairs, well-being—a world where trust and friendship prevail, where neither fear nor want, nor treachery nor dishonesty is found. The song of the angels first lays down a precondition, without which there can be no lasting peace: God’s glory. This is the message of peace at Bethlehem: peace among men results from God’s glory (1)
In my daily devotions, I am presently reading four very different things. Scripture, on a yearly reading plan, two doctrinal works, and this devotional quoted in green, taken from the writings of Pope Benedict, but done while he was a cardinal.
Often I look to see the connection between the works, often between the two theological works. Today I knew there was a connection between what is quoted above from scripture and Pope Benedict, but it takes some thought to see it. It takes prayer, and meditation on the blessings of God in our sacraments to see it come to reality.
And it is necessary today. Very necessary among the people of God that is the Church.
You see, we want the shalom, the peace of God which Benedict XVI writes so powerfully about. We are tired of living in broken and anxiety laden lives. We want peace, but like so many other things, we are only considering peace for ourselves. Real peace, though, the kind of peace that is found in dwelling in the glory of God, is communal. It is more than the absence of conflict, more than compromise so we can get along.
Peace, serenity, harmony is what we are talking about, and as I said, it is impossible through human manipulation or negotiation. It can only happen when we are aware of the work of God, reconciling us to Himself. When He is present. When His glory overwhelms us enough that He can heal us.
So what does this have to do with the alien in our midst? (not to mention the widow and the orphan)
Simple, they are part of the peace. Our loving, benevolent actions toward them, which are commanded by scripture, are well thought out. They are neither blind charity, nor ignoring the needs of those who desperately have them. Those who need a new life, a new place to live, who need to be delivered from the bondage they lived in, just as we were, or, at least, our ancestors were.
There is the connection, the one we don’t want to make. These people that are scorned mocked, who often invest all they have in coming into our presence are looking for the peace, the shalom that can only come from being in the presence of God. The very peaceful, glorious presence we desire for ourselves. The very peace-filled, glorious presence we are called into, together.
Lord have mercy on us…. AMEN!
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 409). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.