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July 3, 2015

The good news for today

Jesus was eating with a (wealthy and despised) tax collector, and good people objected; Jesus answered: “People who are healthy do not need a doctor; sick people do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

The contradictions about Jesus make sense when it dawns on you what His attitude really was—and is—to help and heal. It is not to condemn and judge. It is not to set down hard and fast absolutes of behavior—what people today call righteousness—but to live for one another—to enrich and nurse and have mercy.

You and I are not here to judge anyone. Look at this story. He was enjoying the company of a tax collector. Tax collectors—it is hard to find an equivalent in today’s world. Tax collectors were hired by Rome to collaborate with the occupying forces in collecting taxes. They charged people as much as they could get away with. You have to think of them as protection racketeers, loan sharks and crooked “bankers”—Mr. Potter of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It is for such people that Jesus came. Good people are nice and friendly to each other—“even the pagans do that,” He says elsewhere. It is your attitude of brotherhood and sisterhood with EVERYONE—especially people around you whom popular culture and current prejudices look down on.

The Good News is that the worst people you can imagine, the ones you yourself despise and feel disgusted with are your brothers and sisters, waiting for your mercy, waiting for your healing touch, waiting to feel your understanding presence, your forgiving attitude, your service, respect and warmth as a fellow child of God. You do not need to condemn anyone. You only need to offer them friendship, find their lovability, and treat them as your equal under God.

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