The kindness of strangers
In today’s first reading (Exodus 2:1-15a), a woman is forced by circumstances to entrust her infant son to the dangers of a river and the kindness of strangers. Most unexpectedly, the child is safely found and kindly adopted by a stranger – who happens to be the daughter of Pharaoh himself – and the child would grow to be God’s chosen instrument of law and liberation.
The world is full of strangers. This is a fact of life for us as individuals, as nations, and as a Church.
From childhood we have been told to beware of strangers: a lesson continually reinforced by prudence and experience. Yet prudence and experience also teach that dependence on strangers is often inevitable and can even be beneficial in the right circumstances (with the help of God, as in today’s reading).
In recent days we have been reminded of the reality of other Christians’ estrangement from us and also of the unique blessings that are ours within the Church.
Yet, as we keep these realities firmly in mind, we must also keep in mind that elements of sanctification and truth may also exist outside the visible confines of Christ’s Church (although never apart from Christ – the one mediator between God and man – and thus always connected in some way – however mysterious – to the Church as Christ’s body).
Indeed, on a practical level, recognizing these elements in theological “strangers” can sometimes help us to renew our appreciation for those same elements as they exist in spiritual fullness within Christ’s Church.
The kindness of strangers may be unreliable and sometimes even dangerous, but the grace of God is forever trustworthy and can even use things that are strange to deepen us in the truth that we have received from Christ.
In a world of strangers and friends, may the grace of God help us always to be diligent in discernment and faithful to the truth.