Hopefully, we all woke up hungry this morning. Today the gospel turns us outward. It is so easy for us to judge the Pharisees and their scribes. But how different are we really?
We all know today's gospel where Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners. You should note that tax collectors and sinners are two different groups. Two despised but different groups.
We know that the Pharisees are in the wrong to condemn Jesus but we repeat the behavior and worst of all we repeat it in the church. Jesus says "I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners." But do we really want those people sitting next to us in Church? Do we want them on our parish council or teaching in our religious ed?
Yesterday I watched one of the most amazing people I know sit in open court and talk about her history as a drug addict, felon, and prostitute. The part that always amazes me is her ability to do shamelessly. She knows you cannot undo the past. God has forgiven her, and, because "all things work together for good for those who love God", God has used the painful, sinful part of her past to enable her to help others.
Sadly, I suspect in many dioceses of the Catholic Church, we would run her background check and then tell her the list of ministries she can't do in our parishes. We preach forgiveness better than we practice it. We tell people that they should go to confession and their sins are absolved, but do we truly forgive? Or do we always treat our sinners are not quite forgiven? Sure, there are some crimes where the risk of recidivism is too high to risk, but not most.
Today Jesus reminds us that the Church exists for sinners, not just little sins like saying bad words but the big ones, the ones we tell ourselves we can't imagine committing,the ones that are sins and crimes.
Lent is a time for taking a hard look at ourselves and acknowledging our own sins. It also a time to stop judging others. Today is a day to look into our own hearts and ask, who are the people I still judge? Who are those people I most often criticize? How can I love them?