Reach Out With Mercy
Readings: Is 58:9-14; Lk 5:27-32
"I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners." Lk 5:32
An oft-repeated comedy gag centers on a husband's reaction when his wife announces she's going into labor. He jumps to his feet. He packs the suitcases. He grabs an extra pillow for her. He calls his neighbor to take care of the dog. He does everything he's supposed to do — almost, anyway. He's halfway down the block, gripping the steering wheel tightly, when he realizes he forgot his wife! He left behind the most important thing!
We may think such a silly mistake is unlikely to be duplicated in the real world. But when the Pharisees reproach Jesus for eating with sinners, aren't they committing an equally foolish error? The Pharisees were so absorbed in their own religious practices that they failed to help the very people who needed the care most.
Jesus makes a public point out of associating with sinners and outcasts. He does not hide from the world in need. As in the case of Levi, Jesus shows us that what often wins an outsider to God is friendship and mercy. Levi had no difficulty in joining the path of righteousness. He just needed someone to reach out to him. The lesson here is not just for the Pharisees. It's for us as well. Do we shun those we consider social outcasts? Do we treat the poor like second-class citizens? Do we overlook or scorn or feel uncomfortable among those unlike ourselves?
If the answer is yes, we are no better than the Pharisees whom Jesus took to task. Jesus wants us to always seek the good of our neighbors and to show them mercy and kindness — especially the ones who most need it. By neglecting the least among us, we neglect the Lord Himself.
Lord, warm our hearts with Your unselfish affection. Fill them with Your heavenly presence. Help us always to act with merciful hearts toward others, bestowing kindness upon those most in need. Amen.
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Diary of St. Faustina