With Jesus opening the ears of that mute, we might ask him to open our ears and eyes. He is telling us, “I was homeless, and you welcomed me,” This September, with three hundred thousand homeless people wandering about Europe, there is added force to Our Lord’s words. People or either welcoming him, or turning him away.
The news this week has been focused on 170,000 homeless from the Middle East who crossed into Macedonia from Turkey, going on then to trek across Serbia into Hungary.
Last Tuesday the Hungarian government loaded them onto six trains, saying that they were going on to new homes. But, then, they unloaded them into an underground plaza near Budapest. This Friday, the chancellor of Austria and Angels Merkel of Germany offered them a welcome; and yesterday, they loaded all of them onto forty ancient busses. There were cheering crowds in Vienna, welcoming them with water and bananas.
Jesus also told us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I always took that to mean you must love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. But, it could also mean, “You shall love your neighbor as though he or she were yourself.”
When a homeless person is stinky and dirty we find it had to identify with them. And St. James, in the Second Reading tells us that it is the shabby, rather than the decked-out whom we must welcome.
Fortunately, though, the homeless people we see on the news are often easy to love. Some of them look nice, even nicer than us.
There is a Vietnamese couple who come to my Mass every morning. He is a Math teacher, and she is an X-Ray technician. Yesterday, I asked about their hard times.
After squeezing into fishing boats they spent seven days battling fifty foot high waves. Then, they spent two years in a Philippine refugees camp.
When my great-grandparents, fleeing from Ireland’s Potato Famine, searched for employment, they had to walk west past the Mississippi, because, all through the East they were met by Irish Need Not Apply signs.