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Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go back in time and live in a simpler world with fewer people, a world where Jesus could say to his chosen Twelve: “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.” (One would probably want the power and authority Jesus gave to them over demons and to cure diseases, however, to keep them safe along the way as they preached the word of God.) (LK 9:1-6) When I left home yesterday to come to a meeting 135 miles away, I made sure I had my driver’s license, money, credit card in case of emergency, cell phone, and the food that one of the sisters had bought me at the grocery store for my lunch. Oh, yes, and the car that would get me here in about two and a half hours! Times have certainly changed! The world turns faster, the culture much more complicated – virtually nothing is the same!

I wonder, though, about the kindness of strangers. When Jesus was giving instructions to the apostles that day he obviously wasn’t worried about their welfare. “Whatever house you enter,” he said, “stay there and leave from there.” There was a caveat about what to do if they were not welcomed in a place, but basically they could trust traveling like that.

We certainly can’t wish ourselves back to that simpler time (which also included violence on the road and robbers, etc…) but it’s a good opportunity to think about how we treat strangers. Do we trust them only if they look like us? Do we judge them by appearance before we even hear them speak? And what if they don’t speak our language? Hospitality and welcome seem sometimes to have been replaced by mistrust and ignorance. Just a smile would go a long way to making someone comfortable.

I’ll remember that today on my trip home…