Today’s Gospel: Luke 15, 1-32 – Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“The scribes and Pharisees began to complain.” The Revised Standard Edition says they “murmured”: I can’t believe he’d eat at table with them. He’s condoning their ungodly behavior. It’s scandalous!
In a way, they could be right. What if these tax collectors and sinners haven’t fully repented of their sins? They would still be tax collectors and sinners, violating the God’s law. Taking a meal together is a sign of friendship and acceptance. No one claiming to be a moral authority would do this. Right?
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father does not know the state of the son’s heart before he rushes out to meet him. The son’s journey home is enough for him. The father meets his wayward son on the road, embraces him, and guides him home.
We’re faced with a challenge. We cannot call evil good; we cannot encourage it. On the other hand, it’s easy to fall prey to the “Catholic Elite” temptation: thinking we’ve “got it right.” In fact, entire heretical movements have sprung up throughout the Church’s history as a result of this way of thinking.
Our goal is to make mercy our standard of judgment. It’s a mercy to lead others out of their sins. It’s also a mercy to be patient as they figure things out.
Jesus saw the desire of the tax collectors and sinners to be near him and responded. As his disciples, let us see the impulses of love in even our non-believing neighbors for what they are: movements toward God. Let us meet them on the road, eager for friendship.
Do I esteem others as greater than myself (cf. Philippians 2:3)? Is there someone I consider “beneath me”?
Lord, challenge me to honor others. Grant me a gentle heart. Amen
Copyright 2016 Rhonda Ortiz
Rhonda Ortiz is a writer and graphic designer living in Michigan. Follow her work at www.rhondaortiz.com.