Reflection: Seeing Others with New Eyes
Today's reflection compliments of Leigh Manalang.
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;
I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance."
The Pharisees kept their distance from tax collectors and 'sinners' as they were a despised group, but Jesus conversed with them and even dined with them. I find this quality in Jesus to be a comforting example that He stands with all of us in our sinfulness, sympathizes with our weaknesses, and knows we need healing rather than judgment.
In 1997-98, I had the amazing opportunity to work as a Jesuit Volunteer for an organization called Loaves & Fishes in Sacramento, CA. Loaves & Fishes is an oasis for the homeless, serving men, women and children with hearty meals, a day shelter, a temporary school for the children, and more. Loaves & Fishes taught me a great deal about the treatment of homeless individuals, a population whom also tend to be despised and shunned from society. Most importantly, they were considered (and called) our guests, giving them a welcoming place to come, eat, and leave the harsh elements of the streets.
It was the first time I found myself truly living out Jesus' message of hospitality and radical love. No matter one's background, addictions, family estrangements, and other difficult realities, we offered a kind word, a listening ear, a smile, or just some encouragement. For some, it was their only space of belonging.
Like the Pharisees, we can get into trouble when we use our own lives as the measure against which to judge everyone else. Today let us pray for compassion and ask for God’s blessing for those in need, that they may never feel unworthy of being in the presence of Jesus.
on Saturday, February 20 at 12:00AM