The bishop was sitting next to him and he gently touched his hand. "You didn't have to tell me who you were. This is not my house, it's the house of Jesus Christ. That door does not ask who enters whether he has a name, but whether he has any pain. You are suffering, you are hungry and thirsty; you are welcome. And don't thank me, don't tell me I'm taking you into my home. No one is at home here except the man who is in need of refuge. I'm telling you, who are passing through, you are more at home here than I am myself. Everything here is at your disposal. What do I need to know your name for? Besides, before you told me your name, you had one I knew."
The man opened his eyes in amazement.
"True? You knew what I was called?"
"Yes," replied the bishop. "You are called my brother."
"Listen, father!" cried the man. "I was hungry as a wolf before I came here; but you are so good, that, now, I don't know what's hit me; it's gone."
The bishop looked at him and said:
"You have suffered a lot?"
"Oh! The red paletot, the ball-and-chain at your feet, a plank to sleep on, the heat, the cold, hard labor, the galleys, the stick! Double shackles for nothing. The dungeon for a word. Even sick in bed, the chain. Dogs, dogs are better off! Nineteen years! I'm forty-six. And now I've got a yellow passport. There."
"Yes," the bishop said, "you have come from a place of sadness. Listen. There will be more joy in heaven over the tearful face of a repentant sinner than over the white robes of a hundred righteous men."
(Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. Translation by Julie Rose. P. 66)
May we love our neighbor, like bishop Bienvenue, like Jesus, no matter how hardened our neighbor may be. It may just lead to his repentance, and he will be our brother indeed.