“Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death ofHerod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’” (Mt 2: 13-15)
I heard this passage read yesterday in church, so I’ve been thinking about the obvious fact that in Egypt Christ, His Mother, and Joseph were refugees. In Egypt, of all places, where this Family’s ancestors had been enslaved. When they arrived with the Child in Egypt, they must have been taken in and helped by local people, just like any of us need help in a foreign country, particularly if we happen to be poor as this Family was.
So, when later in life our Lord talks about the Final Judgment, and describes what He will say to the “righteous,” specifically – “I was a stranger, and you took me in” (Mt 25: 35), – there were already people who had done just that, - who weren’t even Christians. In fact, He goes on to describe, in that same passage about the Final Judgment, how the “righteous” will reply, “Lord, when did we see you a stranger and take you in…?” (Mt 25: 37-38) They had no idea that it was the Lord they were helping.
Today let me take pause, when or if any “stranger” crosses my path, and needs my help or my welcome. This may be just someone at the subway station, asking for directions, or someone who wanders into my church for the first time, or someone else. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebr 13: 2)