20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Aug. 14, 2011)

In that great brouhaha over the debt ceiling, one pressing issue was all but neglected: immigration. There is presently in the United States a complex situation about who gets in, how to make sure others stay out. We are trying to decide whom we want and whom we do not. What should be done with those who have lived here for a long time, but not “legally”? As a nation we have profited from their labors and sharing of their cultures, but they have broken the law! It is a political/economical issue and also a complex religious question.

This comes up because Sunday’s First Reading and Gospel deal directly with the issue of foreigners. The First Reading consists of the opening verses of what scholars call Third Isaiah – it’s the third part of the Book Of Isaiah. The people have just returned to Israel from their Babylonian Captivity. They look at a landscape and Temple that are all but destroyed, and naturally wonder” “Where do we begin?” Third Isaiah proclaims the Word of the Lord and says “you begin by being a people open to the gifts and contributions of people from other nations.”

As time went by, they reverted to old ways, and we see that in The Gospel. Jesus, as a good Jewish man, wanted nothing to do with the Samaritan woman. She was one of “them.” He dismissed her out of hand, and so did the disciples. The woman’s persistence caused Jesus to change his tune.

We are known as “The Land of Opportunity.” One of the most historic sites in the United States is Ellis Island in the New York Harbor. Two out of every five American citizens today can trace their family’s entrance into this country through that place of immigration. More personally each of us has our own boundaries and we have constructed our own walls between us, and those we exclude, because…….. Why?

Imagine your heart and mind as an Ellis Island. Whom will you let in? Whom will you keep out? Are you as open to changing your mind as Jesus was?

Be God’s smile for someone today (especially someone who bugs you!)

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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