“Would we baptise Martians?” asked Pope Francis this Tuesday in his homily, instantly grabbing the attention of the media. "If - for example - tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here... Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them... And one says, 'But I want to be baptised!' What would happen?" But this was certainly more than a publicity stunt! It was a radical prophetic gesture of inclusion.
When my family and I came to America, we were officially labeled “Resident Aliens” (that is really official terminology!) and we are not even green! Frankly it was and still is quite unsettling when you consider how aliens are often portrayed and treated in American films.
Every true, spiritual, prophetic religion asks questions, opens our minds and the circles of our inclusion. This Sunday our youth are preparing and leading our worship. For the homily they picked the marvelously challenging parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Structural and rhetorical analysis of this parable makes it quite clear - while the main focus is on the younger “prodigal” son, the open end of this narrative parable forces the audience (us!), to identify with the older, the responsible, and the angry son. That is the only role open for us, the church people and well-pampered New Yorkers. The open end of the story leaves us with a burning and challenging question: How broad a circle of divine grace are we willing to draw? How alien could our aliens be? Resident aliens? Nonresident aliens? Undocumented aliens? Aren’t we alienating ourselves from divine grace, if we attempt to limit and curtail the divine grace?
Yours sincerely, Resident Alien