Daily Reflection – 9/21/20
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)
Here are five lines of scripture that are powerful in their direction for our lives and our relationship with God.
The first message that jumps out is that Jesus invites all of us to share His presence in our lives, regardless of who we are, regardless of what we may have done in the past, or how confused our present life may be. Jesus does not judge us or condemn us: instead he invites into His home, shares himself with us and invites us to share ourselves with Him.
Just as God, in Christ, has invited those on the margins into his home without judgement we are to invite people into the home of our church and our hearts without judgement, so that we can share His love with them. and encourage them to journey with us.
But judging others overtly or subconsciously is one of the down fallings of human kind. How quick we are to judge outward appearances, or to believe the gossip of others, or even worse to discriminate because of color, or gender, or bias. YET, we claim the label of Christian. Sorry, the two simply do not go together. No way, no shape, no how.
That also brings us to an institutional fault or even an institutional chasm. Too often, our churches tend to encourage us to stay focused on our beliefs and that means socializing only with those who adhere to our beliefs — to live in some sort of holy huddle as if mixing socially with those who do not think as we do will somehow infect our spirituality. But Jesus’ approach is the complete opposite. He is quite happy to host a dinner party for tax collectors, sinners and disciples – and he is quite happy for his disciples to mix socially with tax collectors and sinners.
I am reminded of a parish on the West Coast to which I was assigned. I asked the pastor about when the ministers in our town met together (a most common practice in the United States). The pastor replied that the ministers preferred not to. I was incredulous and asked why. He said that they believed our denominational differences were too great!! YET, we claim the label of Christian. Sorry, the two simply do not go together. No way, no shape, no how.
Finally, Jesus cuts through false religiosity. The Pharisees practiced an institutional form of religion. They were so intent on pursuing purity through obedience to their laws that they had forgotten the heart of their faith. He is reminding them and us that all the rituals and sacramentals are utterly meaningless unless we practice mercy and love and kindness and compassion towards others. The externals never compensate for lacking the commands of the love commands. YET, we claim the label of Christian. Sorry, the two simply do not go together. No way, no shape, no how.
Today let each of us embrace humility, love and mercy towards others just as Jesus has taught us. Let us prioritize our neighbors than ourselves and God in heaven will reward us in equal measure.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, You have taught us to be humble, loving and merciful to our neighbors. Strengthen our hearts and souls so that we may never waver away from this solemn call to unconditionally serve others from our hearts.”
It is important to examine the degree to which we see and judge everything in our life through the prism of faith. A true believer, a real apostle, must form this “sixth sense” in all of his/her daily dealings. We form this habit through prayer, our frequent and intimate contact with God. We need to ask God for the gift of faith, which gives us a new perspective on life.