The prophet Elisha is welcomed warmly by the couple in Shunem, and he promises them a reward for their hospitality. Jesus tells his followers that he who welcomes you welcomes me, and “he who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).
How good are we as a society at welcoming people into our company? An asylum underground operated during the 1980s to give protection to Salvadorans and Guatemalans whom we did not want to welcome. The Haitians have not been so lucky in the 1990s. The homeless are often not welcome anywhere, locked outside by a society that does not want to adequately fund public housing and pursued by the enforcers of laws that make it illegal to be homeless. Stories continue to surface of high-class institutions refusing to welcome African Americans or Jews or women.
Those of us who are baptized “must consider ourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). We should walk in the light of Christ. We should be different from those who exclude others and drive them out. We should bring God’s love to the world:
Basic justice demands the establishment of minimum levels of participation in the life of the human community for all persons ... The ultimate injustice is for a person or group to be treated actively or abandoned passively as if they were nonmembers of the human race. To treat people this way is effectively to say that they simply do not count as human beings.
U.S. Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 1986: 77.