Do you ever feel left out? Ever feel excluded from the good life? Even if you’ve got a lot of the stuff that promises to give a good life but leaves you empty, excluded from the life you thought you’d get with your job and family and toys and education and status and church and even your faith?
Jesus is sometimes pretty tough on the Scribes and Pharisees. This Sunday’s Gospel lectionary comes from Matt. 23, a virtual diatribe against the hypocrisy and people pleasing self-righteousness of the religious folk of the first century who were so good at looking like only they were included in God’s good life while they were experts at stopping those who yearn to be included. They were professionals at excluding people like you, people like me.
But then there’s Jesus.
When Jesus was asked by His cousin, John the Baptist, if He was really the Messiah, the guy who would give life to the dry bones of Israel’s existence, the response was astounding. Jesus said to tell John, “… the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them” (Matt. 11:5). Do you hear it? Do you hear the good news, the Gospel to people like you, people like me, people who feel left out of God’s good stuff, people excluded by the religious experts?
You are included in God’s love; you and I, even in the dark recesses where we feel disqualified, excluded by the religious pros, people like you and me are included. We are loved. Loved into life.
Jesus touches untouchable spiritual lepers who are filthy with the stench of sin and seats them at His table; Jesus lifts the incorrigibly lame to run the marathon of discipleship; Jesus makes visionaries like Peter of those who are blind as bats to all that matters in life; Jesus turns a first century terrorist like Saul of Tarsus into the greatest of His preachers.
How? How does Jesus touch the untouchable, walk with the incorrigibly lame, give visions to the blind? Hopefully, each of us has a few folks who take on Jesus' flesh in our lives. Jesus comes to us through them; these few become church to us, kingdom of God to us. Not many, probably, not in a building, certainly, but a few who will be the love of God to us. And these folks, those who become Jesus to us, touch us, see us, love us--they are the treasures of the kingdom of God for people like you, people like me. They are our saints; they are, all, saints to us.
Jesus gives life to people like you and me. Here, now, in this day that God has made people like you and me are touched, raised, healed by Jesus’ saying simply, “Come with me; come with these few saints who touch you, see you, walk with you; let’s live.”
IN MEMORY, IN GRATITUDE