The Pharisees… said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
This accusation—for that’s what it was—was often made of Jesus during his lifetime. Luke (Chapter 15) follows it with three parables (the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost sons). Each time the lesson is the same: there is more joy in heaven over even one repentant sinner than over 99 who do not need repentance. Perhaps we should sharpen the point at issue here if we translated our text to read: “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” To which Jesus answers, “Go and learn the meaning of this scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Jesus shows that he has come for all people, without exception, and especially the weak and the vulnerable, the “sick” and the “sinner.” Jesus’ mission is transformative for people, and the gospel shows that the good news of Jesus is a message of transformation. This is a central theme of the gospel message that is consistently missed (more than we want to admit) by those who claim to be inside the family of God. How inclusive and compassionate Jesus is in his ministry!
When we are at the Table of the Lord, do we see communion as a reward for the just or food for the hungry, the needy, and the unwashed of society? We are talking about ourselves here! Jesus nourishes us with his word and his flesh so that we might become the body of Christ in our world, reflecting his mercy and love for others.
Am I prejudiced against any individuals or groups?
Let Us Pray:
Lord, help me to become more like you in thought, word, and deed. Make me large-hearted, and help me to turn my tendency for judgment on myself, not others.