Xenophobia and fear of the other is not exactly a new phenomenon. Jesus ran up against it all the time. Take Luke 4:16-30, the Gospel reading for Monday, September 2. It's one of my favorites.
The story starts with the people in his hometown of Nazareth professing amazement at the wisdom of Jesus, as he reads from the Torah scroll and quotes Isaiah. Then, a few minutes later, he talks about a prophet not being honored in his own land. He goes on to list historical occasions when God sent his prophets to help people of other lands. Oops! Suddenly, the people who had been amazed were now enraged, getting ready to throw Jesus off a cliff.
That wasn't the only time Jesus showed an openness to people beyond his own land. He was demonstrably kind to strangers. Not a bad example to follow. I wish more of our preachers were willing to stand in the pulpit and say things, like defense of immigrants, that would have the congregation ready to throw them from a cliff.
Here's the reading:
Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, "Is this not the son of Joseph?"
He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb,
'Physician, cure yourself,' and say, 'Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'"
And he said,
"Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
First in my class in Officer Candidate School. Late to the conclusion that our attitude toward the military is idolatrous.