Friday, August 10, 2012
Read: Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me." Matthew stood up and followed him. Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?" Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders." Matthew 9:9-13 (The Message)
The word for the week: Acceptance
Think About: And now Jesus smacks us right between the eyes. With a 2" x 4". Hard.
The religious leaders focused on the rules. And by their standards, they were right and justified. By breaking bread with the unclean, Jesus (in the leaders' minds) became unclean. As he was unclean, he could not participate in the religious rituals. He could not be holy. Jesus retorted that doctors go to the sick. Doctors don't seek healthy people because the healthy don't need doctors. In the same manner, the spiritual persons, ESPECIALLY the leaders, should go to those lacking in spirit. For those are the people who are hurting. And who need the care.
I am after mercy, not religion.
Let's go Facebooking again. The religious leaders' check-in at "Ritual" didn't get the "like" click from Jesus. Acting in care and compassion - Matthew inviting the riff-raff to meet Jesus - did get that coveted "like"!
The religious leaders were already offended by Jesus' status. But Jesus does not just leave his comments at that. He adds another comment to his status:
I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.
It's not about us? Jesus, God, religion, spirituality is not for our comfort? Maybe we need to be careful. It may be easy to go inside our white-washed sacred places, pray piously, worship expansively - and still not minister to those in need. While we are inside waiting to be coddled, in spaces that are designed to exclude and not welcome, God knows we are all right. God is outside...
... Inviting others in. We hope our response to the invitation God is giving to OTHERS (we got our friend request long ago) - our "come along with me" response - is to grant acceptance, and community, to ALL whom God invites in.
Pray this Prayer: Oh, Infinite and Sacred, you come to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. Sure there are times I need comfort and assurance – but most times, it is not about me. Let me respond by going out and giving acceptance. Amen.
Written by the St. Luke's Writing Team
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