As Religious we know what it’s like to be in a gang, or a clique. We spend most of our time with people who think the way we do, believe the same things we do, dress the same way as we do. Being in a group makes us feel that we belong, and that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. And people who belong to groups like ours only occasionally mingle with people who are fundamentally different. We tend to preach to the converted.
We’ve just heard how Our Lord invites his host—a Pharisee—to venture beyond his own clique. Many of the Pharisees who opposed Our Lord didn’t reach out to the less fortunate. By actively avoiding people who weren’t like them, they missed out on the works of compassion at the heart of the Law they claimed to cherish so much.
But this Pharisee had an open mind. After all, he had invited Our Lord to his house, so one might assume he was already looking for the truth. And because this man was open, Our Lord tried to get him to see things in a new light, the light of his mercy.
Our Lord invites us to see things in that same light. His life shows us that mercy in action looks radical. Throughout his life, he embraced poverty and was shunned by the elite and powerful. He spent time with prostitutes and ate with tax collectors. He healed lepers by touching them. Even when compared to our modern ideas of social justice, these actions can still seem radical. Yes, it’s good to give our resources to the poor, but it’s harder to give ourselves.
As we meditate on Our Lord’s words today, consider how his teaching isn’t an empty philosophy. When Our Lord told his host to invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind,” this was something Jesus had actually done himself. He constantly reached out to the marginalized. He loved them and he was one of them. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us look at people the way Jesus did. We may find ourselves thinking differently about the people outside our own circle. And we might just begin to act differently too.