Thursday, May 18, 2006

A wandering Aramean was my ancestor

A nomad; a person with no fixed place; like the Son of Man (Luke 9:58).

Ironic, isn't it?

When an alien resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. He is to be treated as a native born among you. Love him as yourself, because you were aliens from Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:33 (REB) (with thanks to jane for the reference).

Israel was a land of immigrants, and their law told them to remember, always, that they were immigrants. As they are now, the aliens among you, you were then. So even those Israel displaced or put under new rule, were to be treated like the people of Israel. "Love him as you love yourself, because you were aliens in Egypt."

And in the Southwest, at one time. Stephen F. Austin assured the government of Mexico that his colonists would not seek independence. To this day, modern Texas culture owes so much to Mexico and Spain, it wouldn't be "Texas" culture without it: food; cowboys; rodeos; lariats. The only thing not distinctly Mexican or Spanish about Texas culture, is oil. "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us." As true in Texas as it is in New Mexico, or Arizona, or California.

After you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you to occupy as your holding and settle in it, you are to take some of the firstfruits of all the produce of the soil, which you harvest from the land the Lord your God is giving you, and, having put them in a basket, go to the place which the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. When you come to the priest, whoever he is at the time, say to him, "I acknowledge this day to the Lord your God that I have entered the land which the Lord swore to our forefathers to give us." The priest will receive the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. Then you must solemnly recite before the Lord your God: "My father was a homeless Aramean who went down to Egypt and lived there with a small band of people, but there it became a great, powerful and large nation...."

Deuteronomy 26:1-5a (REB)

After the Exile, the idea of homelessness and immigrancy and being established in God, became a part of the liturgy, the ritual, of the people of Israel. They were to always remember that they were homeless and that they were once strangers in the land where they lived.

As our ancestors were. But we have no ritual for remembering; no law that reminds us to love the alien among us, as we love ourselves. All we have is a choice: to follow, to listen, to act.

Or to be a part of the world which is "America." So, who was your ancestor?

No comments:

Post a Comment