When St. Damien first set foot on the shores of Hawaii, he thought of the people living there as barbarians or pagan worshipers of Ku and Lono. He wrote to his family to pray for him because he was in a corrupt, heretical, and idolatrous country. He felt like a stranger, unable to speak the language, with European coloring and facial characteristics. But he quickly hired a local youth to teach him Hawaiian and set about learning and absorbing the culture, determined to become as closely aligned with these people as possible.
And didn't God, through Jesus Christ, do the same for us? Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have become near by the blood of Christ So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2: 11-13, 19)
No longer strangers and aliens Just as Christ humbled himself to become human, to walk among us and know our joys and sufferings, so Fr. Damien walked among the hopeless lepers, identifying himself in every way with them, even unto death. They were no longer strangers to him, no longer barbarians, but brothers and sisters. They were able to trust him because he became as they were, proving to them that they need not be afraid because eternal life was theirs through Jesus Christ.
And so we are "fellow citizens with the saints"! Leperous though our souls may be, we, too, have hope through the same Christ Jesus: hope for love, hope for salvation, hope for eternal life with God.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for by the power of the Holy Spirit you gave us Christ as our brother, so we are no longer strangers but your sons and daughters for all eternity. Amen!
St. Damien of Molokai, pray for us!