Saturday, March 2, 2013

"This Man Welcomes Sinners And Eats With Them"- (Relfection on Fr. John Eudes Bamberger's homily) By. C.C.

Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32.

"Perhaps we would obtain a more vivid impression of our Lord's personality and of his character if Luke had described this scene from the point of view of the sinners at table with Jesus in addition to telling us of the highly critical attitude expressed in the comments of the learned scribes and religiously observant Pharisees.  Had he done that he might well have added such words as these: "Tax collectors and sinners upon hearing Jesus as he preached were so impressed with his warmth and the friendly message he so simply and winningly conveyed that they eagerly invited him to share a meal with them. They wanted to know more about him and his message.  At table they hoped to hear at greater length what he had to say about God of whom he spoke so naturally and who displayed such familiar spontaneity as he referred to God as his Father. They wished to know better this person so friendly who could speak of such serious matters with a captivating charm.   He caused them to feel a new kind of self-respect by his whole manner of treating them.   He made them interested for the first time in religious teachings that were presented not as burdensome prescriptions of law but rather as a more appealing, more worthy way of life.   In his presence these hardened men no longer felt despised by someone they recognized as being highly intelligent and cultivated with a new kind of learning in the Torah that caused them to recognize that he was somehow more concerned for their welfare than in imposing observances." (Abbot John Eudes Bamberger)

     I have always liked the Gospel passage that we are called to reflect upon today. Luke allows for us to have some understanding of the humility that Jesus exuded by the retelling of this story. As sinners and those striving for holiness we can take much away from this Scripture, and also from the reflective words of Abbot John Eudes. 
   There is a different perspective presented here that draws our attention and compassion onto that of the sinners who ate with Jesus. In doing this, Eudes succeeds in perhaps highlighting some ways that we as followers of Christ are called to imitate the way of our Lord with humility. We are presented with the opportunity to reflect upon the way that we share Christ and the truth of our inner state. Do we share the love of our Lord? Do we act with compassion? Are we quick to judge and label others as sinners--before first looking at ourselves? Through the eyes of others do we appear as self-righteous hypocrites or do we show Jesus?  As the Church today focuses on "The New Evangelization" we are reminded  that the most effective part of our journey as followers of Christ is to be "Christ-like". 
   Like the Sinners who saw Jesus as a man of love and compassion, so too should we strive to share the love of our Lord and not concern ourselves with condemning and judging others. We must take the time to know our faith, take the time to recognize that it is not a collection of "burdensome prescriptions of law", but rather a way of attaining life.
      "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them" May we pray for the humility to see ourselves among the sinners, recognizing that it is only by the grace of God and His mercy that we can acquire holiness. May we strive each day to "imitate Christ" sharing the love of God and being true examples of Who it is we follow. (C.C.)

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