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A Stranger

Ephesians 2:10 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

What does it mean to :

  • love your neighbor
  • welcome a stranger 
  • be generous to a refugee 
  • show kindness to an outlier

The following four paragraphs are from Heidi Swinton in her biography here on Thomas Monson. She explains that his family had humble roots, living in the SLC area after the Great Depression.

"The Monsons opened their doors- literally- to the needy. Because of the Depression, hordes of men hitching rides on the rails came into town looking for work. Living close to the tracks as they did, the Monsons had many transients knock at their door, caps in their hands as they groped for what to say. Finally, out would come, "Pardon me, but is there any work we can do to get something to eat?" No one was ever turned away.

Gladys Monson had no fear. These were not criminals; these were displaced men who had nothing and were trying to make a go of it. She would lead them to the sink and tell them to wash up while she got them some lunch. She would fix exactly what Spence had for lunch - a ham or beef sandwich, potato chips, a piece of cake, and a glass of milk or soda. Then she would sit down and in her motherly manner ask them, "Where are you from?" They were busy eating, and she was busy asking questions; she was genuinely interested in them. They had to listen to her counsel, and she had plenty. "She would lecture each on how he ought to consider returning to his home and how he ought to be a good person while he was riding the rails and how he should write home to reassure those who were no doubt worried about him.

Tommy never understood how they knew just which house to approach. He did know that when he repainted the picket fence, his mother instructed him to leave one slat as it was. He sensed that somehow signaled a welcome to those in need.

Such experiences taught him to be generous and accepting. His father was a man of few words, but when it came to helping others, his actions spoke volumes. Compassion was taught in the Monson home, and the lessons were learned well. "We have no way of knowing when our privilege to extend a helping hand will unfold before us," President Monson has said here. "The road to Jericho each of us travels bears no name, and the weary traveler who needs our help may be one unknown." (Heidi Swinton, p.45-46 To The Rescue, The Biography of Thomas S. Monson.)

New Testament

Matthew 25:38-46 "When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

I've often reflected on what it means to welcome a stranger. How can I be my brother's keeper? Remember the story of Jean Valjean from Les Miserables? 

I copied this plot synopsis from SparkNotes over here.

"The convict Jean Valjean is released from a French prison after serving nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread and for subsequent attempts to escape from prison. When Valjean arrives at the town of Digne, no one is willing to give him shelter because he is an ex-convict. Desperate, Valjean knocks on the door of M. Myriel, the kindly bishop of Digne. Myriel treats Valjean with kindness, and Valjean repays the bishop by stealing his silverware. When the police arrest Valjean, Myriel covers for him, claiming that the silverware was a gift. The authorities release Valjean and Myriel makes him promise to become an honest man."

I can't remember all the details, and I might be mixing the novel with the stage play, but isn't there a part where the good Bishop tells Valjean that along with the silverware, he'd forgotten two extra candlesticks? The Bishop in this story demonstrates true devotion to God and commitment to love his neighbor. I LOVE that he extends mercy.


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