Sometimes Jesus didn’t hang out with the right crowd. At least in the eyes of the Pharisees. Jesus invited the sinners and tax collectors in and ate with them. Think of the high school lunch tables, the in crowd and the out crowd. Our judgmental characters lead us to put people in categories so we can feel better about ourselves. But we are all God’s people.
I see this message as one of hope, redemption and challenge. Hope and redemption for me, when I fall short, when I sin, that I can still be invited to the table. The dark parts in me do not have to take over. The message also challenges me to see beyond labels and stereotypes, and more importantly, even with those labels, to open my own heart and give people a chance, the same chance and opportunity that I would hope to receive from all.
I am struck by the first reading from Hebrews:
To me, the living word draws that link between Jesus sitting around a table with tax collectors and sinners and my own world of labels and stereotypes and the high school lunch tables. I can ask God to help me peel back layers, to open my heart to God’s mercy and grace.
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