SAUCIER -- Far and away


Recent congressional testimony of UFOs and alleged “non-human biologics” intrigued me.

I recalled a story which now may not be apocryphal after all.

Not that long ago, our planet was visited by an extraterrestrial. The alien wasn’t captured, but rather gave itself up, explaining that it was here simply for mutual learning, to engage in dialogue with a civilization very different from its own.

The alien was itinerated about, meeting world leaders and Nobel scientists, all of whom had questions important to human advancement and intergalactic peace.

Finally, the alien was ushered in to see the pope. After a cordial greeting, the pontiff asked him, “Do you know Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.”

“Oh, you mean JC?” the alien responded. “Sure, we know him. He comes by every year just to see how we’re doing.”

“Every year?” the pope asked skeptically. “Here on earth, we have been waiting for his Second Coming for 2,000 years. How could this be?”

“Well,” the strange visitor said, sensing a slight irritation in the pope’s words, “Perhaps he likes our chocolates better?”

“Chocolates?” the pope practically shouted. “What do chocolates have to do with it?”

“Not to brag, but we are pretty well-known in our part of the universe for our chocolates,” the alien explained. 

“When Jesus first came to us, we gave him a collection of our absolute best, most luxurious chocolates. What did you give him?”

Before the old Greek writer Lucian poured the foundation of science fiction and long before the Ewoks and the ETs, the word “alien” was already in use.

It is a translation of the Greek xenos which is also rendered foreigner and stranger. A xenos is an outsider, someone alien to our land, our culture or our group.

In the book of Exodus, with memories of Egypt still disturbing their dreams, God tells the Israelites to never mistreat an alien or foreigner, because they knew the suffering that caused.

It’s a message that echoes throughout the Old Testament and then is reinterpreted in the new.

Paul adds heft to its moral weight when he tells the Church in Rome to look after the needs of God’s people and “practice hospitality.”

Paul’s word for hospitality was philoxenia, from philia — brotherly love and, you got it, xenos.

Paul was big on living one’s faith. Tolerance was never enough. He insisted we literally pursue the love of strangers, especially those in need.

Chocolates are a good start.