I wish, just for once, not to be on the receiving end of His censure. I have listened to Him and His words have slipped into my head. I have sat at the feet of my mentors and have soaked up all their teaching. Arguing verbs and tenses and the nuance in a sentence has not prepared me for such a man as Him. He deals in practicalities and throws out a challenge like a fisherman tosses out a line.
He dares me to hold a lunch or a dinner and not to invite only my friends, my family or my rich neighbours. All I am asking for, he says, is an invitation in return. Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, he says, and I will be blessed. They have nothing and cannot pay me back, but there will be a reward in the next life.
He knows, of course, that I don’t mix with those kind of people.
Father…I am afraid.
What if by holding this lunch or dinner with these people I become defiled? Surely they are poor or crippled, lame or blind because of their sin? I have been so careful to steer clear of these people, to keep myself separate and pure. Strange that I don’t worry about what my friends might think. They will put it down to a foolish boy mixing with the wrong crowd, a minor rebellion perhaps, something I will doubtless grow out of.
I worry, Father, about what You might think.
His words will not be ignored. I want to prove Him wrong, to show Him that I can act out of compassion. Deep inside, however, I think he has described me well. He knows me to be a selfish man and the heart in me would agree. His very presence shines a light upon me and I feel exposed. Even one of his own disciples said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”
Of course, He didn’t go away at all. Jesus of Nazareth isn’t a man who goes away no matter how much we want Him to. He stays and pokes and prods, and stirs a man to distraction.
So, Father, I am going to do what He says. I’m going to hold this lunch or dinner. Not to prove Him wrong about me, but to see if He is right and if there is something I can do to change. I will invite my friends and family, though they might not come once they know who the other guests are. I’m not planning anything elaborate, just something simple.
Father, help me.