Lover of Sinners and Outcast

by | Jan 25, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus is a lover of those whom religion and society shun:  sinners, widows, orphans and strangers.  They are dear to true Christians too.

It seems the leaving out of “vengeance,” when Jesus read Is 61, 1-2, did not bother his fellow Nazareth citizens.  For they still speak highly of him and find his words amazing; they deem him a lover of his own race.

But it does not take long for their praise to turn into rejection, for their lover into an enemy.  It turns out so since they start to have doubts.  They think they know him well.  He is no more than one of them; how is it that he shows he is more than them?

It seems, then, that they cannot think outside the box that Nazareth has become for them.  They cannot accept themselves; they cannot accept Jesus.  Though they may not know it, they are afraid to be different.  That is why they cannot bear that Jesus is different.

Nor do they like what he seems to say.  That is, that they are with those who reject the prophet that God has raised up from their own kin.  Hence, they are sure that Jesus now shows his true colors; he is a lover of the Gentiles.  So, as they now see it, he did mean to leave out “vengeance”; they feel taken by him.  By the one who warns them not to think that they are better and more pleasing before God than the pagans.  And all in the synagogue get furious.  Jesus might have as well told them, “Fill up what your ancestors measured out.”

Yes, those who do good cannot but bring in conflict (SV.EN I:75).  And kings, princes, priests and the people fight the prophet that speaks the truth they do not want to hear.

Lover of the Outcast

No, there is no doubt that Jesus is a lover of those on the outskirts.  He eats with sinners, prostitutes and not so good folks.  He lets those who are not clean, those that religion and society shun, go near him and touch him.  For he cannot but share their sorrows and joys.

Hence, “Jesus’ table is for all.  It is not the Pharisees’ ‘holy table’ nor the ‘clean table’ of those who belong to the Qumran community.  It is God’s welcoming table.”  He does not fit “the boxes and compartments we make.”

And before the all-holy and all-pure God, we are all sinners and not clean.  For him, there are no good folks with rights and merits.  Nor are there bad folks that do not have rights and merits.  For all of us are in need of his mercy.  And he offers it to all (LG 2. 16); only those who do not welcome it stay out, since they think they are not in need of it.

Do we go with the lover of those who are on the outskirts?  Do we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep?  For if we do not, we will only be caricatures of “this lover of our hearts” (SV.EN XII:222; SV.EN XI:131).  We are to love not in word but in deed, even to giving up our bodies and shedding our blood (1 Jn 3, 16-18; SV.EN XI:32).

Lord Jesus, you are the stone that, rejected by the builder, has become the corner stone.  Make each of your builders a lover of those whom the world turns away.

30 January 2022
4th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Jer 1, 4-5. 17-19; 1 Cor 12, 31 – 13, 13; Lk 4, 21-30