Today the Church honors the apostle Thomas, a fitting saint for this eve of our country’s Independence Day celebration. The Ephesians passage chosen for his feast reminds us that “you are strangers and aliens no longer:” It tells us further that “you form a building…to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” As we in the United State struggle with knotty issues of immigration, this reading holds up the reality that our own family ancestors arrived here from countries near and far. In every generation we have faced issues of belonging. And so often it has been church communities that have helped newcomers navigate these realities of identity and inclusion. As I listen to new voices and languages, as my horizons get stretched through walking with families new to our land, perhaps my own values and perspectives are both stretched and strengthened.

In today’s gospel Jesus enters the upper room where his fearful disciples are huddled. His simple greeting is “Peace be with you.” This weekend of national pride, may this be our greeting to and pray for one another, especially our new neighbors.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team