I'm not sure what can be more nerve-wracking: being the stranger or welcoming the stranger.
We've all been the stranger. We've started new jobs, joined new book clubs, attended a new church, enrolled in a new school, and had drinks with new friends. Being the stranger requires courage because our vulnerability is put on display. And we have the choice to either withdraw or to press through that vulnerability. We need courage to do the latter.
There's also a certain vulnerability demanded of us when we welcome the stranger. We've all experienced this, too. We've been the veteran employee, the founder of the book club, the lifelong church attendee, and the childhood best friend. We've had the opportunity to smile warmly and introduce ourselves. Welcoming the stranger requires bravery as we stand with someone who doesn't yet feel they belong. And we have the choice to either withdraw or to press through that vulnerability. We need bravery to do the latter.
That's what the Lord is asking of us in today's Gospel. "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)
Jesus explains that when we welcome the stranger we are becoming more like Him and working to bring about our salvation. We're encouraged to match the stranger's vulnerability by stepping out of our comfort zones for the sake of another. While this certainly encompasses welcoming the stranger on a large scale—those displaced from their homes, those fleeing to a foreign land, those orphaned or widowed—this vulnerability is fostered on a smaller scale. We prepare to be faithful in the big moments by being faithful in the thousand small moments. By welcoming the new person to our workplace, book club, church, school, and friend group—or the unexpected baby, the mentally-ill family member, and the abrasive neighbor—we practice the virtues of courage and vulnerability so that they become second-nature. For it's only in welcoming the stranger that we truly welcome the Lord into our hearts.
Sisters, take some time today and really think about the strangers in your life, both on the large and small scales. Cover every area of your life, walk through every encounter throughout your day. How can you embrace vulnerability and reach out to welcome them? Let's get uncomfortable together for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom. Let's welcome Him in by welcoming one another.
Offer a special prayer for the stranger today. Maybe a Glory Be. Maybe an entire Rosary. Bring them into your prayer life.
Olivia Spears lives in Kentucky where the sweet tea and bourbon flow like milk and honey. She is the Blog Manager for Blessed is She and works from home as an editor and social media manager. She likes to binge novels and Netflix while raising her children and laughing with her husband. You can find out more about her here.