Agape: February 29, 2020

Agape: The 2020 Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” -Leviticus 19:34

Generally, when I think of Leviticus, I tend to think of abhorrent rules that hardly seem in keeping with the Gospel Message of Christ. But as Jesus himself proclaimed in Matthew 5:17 (KJV), “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (v.17) In the case of this injunction, however, Leviticus is the last word in empathy.

At the risk of verging on the political, it hardly goes without saying that this passage should resonate loudly with our country. After all, we were all foreigners at some time in our American sagas — unless, of course, you are an indigenous person. Issues of who is and who isn’t an American are a source of deep ideological divides in our country. But we should not give in to those who would deny not only our historic embrace of “the foreigner” (despite a checkered past in doing so) but our calling as Christians. We cannot let them prevail, and in our struggle against we should keep in mind the final verse in this reference to Matthew: “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (v.20)

Lord, give us the sight to discern our fellowship in Christ with all who seek our land in their flight from bondage to freedom. They are not “the other” — they are us. Amen.
-Michael Boss