Welcoming the stranger always sounds good until we have to put it into action. The new kid in school, the new parishioner who sits in our seat, the guy at work, the new family at the pool—face it; we get very comfortable with our family and our friends and the people that we know. It takes energy going out of our way to talk to new people — or people who are different than us. Sometimes, whether we like to admit it or not, we are actually a little afraid of people who are different than us.
This weekend’s Scriptures give us three admonitions and examples to welcome the stranger. In the first reading, God promises that even strangers who keep the Lord’s commands will be admitted to the Holy Mountain. This was quite a slap to the Jewish people who saw their relationship with God as exclusive. But God says, if they do not profane the Sabbath, etc. they will be equally able to be part of the kingdom. Vatican Council II said that in Nostra Aetate, the document on Non-Christian religions. People often ask if those who do not believe in Christ will have a chance to get into heaven if they were raised Buddhist or Muslim or Jewish. The Document is very clear that anyone who, by no fault of their own, does not know Christ and practices his/her faith with devotion being kind, generous and loving, has equal access to heaven. It is God who will judge. Did you know that?