How would you feel if you saw me socializing with prostitutes and drug-dealers, eating and drinking with terrorists? Bishop Robert Barron

Not exactly the title you were expecting to read this morning?  People – like you and me, have a strange way of judging others.  Why?  Usually because by judging them, it make us look like we are better people.  Take a quick look at today’s Gospel reading from Mark…

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation? 
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ 
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’ 
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

John (the Baptist) neither “ate or drank” and was judged harshly for that; Jesus came, “eating and drinking” but with the wrong people and was judged harshly for that.  What was the big deal?  People set up their comfort zones and if you don’t conform to what has made them comfortable, shame on you.  The harsh reality of this is that the people judging unjustly were the religious leaders of the day, the ones who “understood” the law of God.  How many of us today think we “understand” the law of God and judge accordingly?  Let me give two quick examples…

We were living in Decatur, IL at the time and attending St. Thomas the Apostle church.  Fr. Dennis Kollross was our pastor – a man we came to love deeply – and he was on the liberal side of the political spectrum for the most part.  I was sitting at Mass on one Sunday morning and Fr. Kollross talked about how we were called to love those who identified themselves as gay or lesbian and that they were as welcome at Mass as much as I was.  The more he talked, the angrier I became.  I went home that morning after Mass wondering why it is that I even go to Mass there if the only thing I’m going to be is angry when I get home.  Later that evening we where having dinner with dear friends of ours from the parish and I opened up to Doc (Bill Hoffman) about how angry I was with Fr’s homily that day – knowing that Doc was going to agree with me completely.  I was shocked when Doc chastised me about feeling the way I did.  It was Doc who made me realize that all are welcome in God’s house and that God loves everyone.

My second story relates to Cardinal Dolan of New York.  A few years back, he hosted a fund raising dinner for his archdiocese and invited President Obama as an “honored” guest.  A few years later, he invited Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  If you remember, both sides of the political aisle were offended that a man of his religious stature would have the audacity to dine with the likes of those sinners.

Let’s go back to our Gospel…wisdom is vindicated by her works.  What?  The more I read our holy Bible, the more I come to understand the message that is being proclaimed to me, the more I come to realize that God chooses to dine with ALL OF US.  We are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.  There is not one man, woman or child on this earth that is perfect.  There is not one man, woman or child on this earth that God would not give His life for – He does not have a favorite child.  It is we as imperfect humans who cause the division among ourselves.  It is we as humans who judge unjustly – it is we who are deciding who are the ones possessed by a demon OR who is a glutton and a drunkard.

So how do we fix this mess?  Let’s start with reading our first reading from today’s mass from the prophet Isaiah…

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.

And then live the truth of the responsorial psalm…

Responsorial Psalm PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (see John 8:12) Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Do something great for our Lord today – dine with a sinner – I am free for lunch by the way.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.

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