Would that be fair?
But wait - What if the first woman was a big movie star… or Oprah… or the first Lady? Would that make it more fair that she should get the most care?
What if the other woman was a druggy and a prostitute… would that make it fair that SHE would be left to die while the other woman gets all the life-saving attention?
Hopefully we can all see that regardless of who these people are… they have equal right to whatever care we can provide.
Paul tells us today in that second reading, “show no partiality”. That’s harder to put into practice than you think. We automatically judge people and put them into categories: the rich, the poor, the haves and the have-nots, the beautiful and the plain, the working and the unemployed, the reds and the blues, the pros and the antis, and a thousand other categories which in OUR mind ranks that person ahead or behind somebody else....as with us or against us.
Show no partiality. But Jesus, surely you don't expect me to treat THAT person with respect...I mean....they're so ....well.... Less important than I am.
Dorothy Day – even before becoming Catholic started attending daily Mass and was impressed with the fact that both the business man and the farmer, the student and the dropout, the master and the servant, all worshipped side-by-side in the pew.
You and I might not think that’s anything special – from our experience, anybody is allowed to walk through that door to pray with us. We don’t even have to TRY to make that happen. That’s one of the beauties of the Catholic Church....even when we are a thousand miles from home...we are at home in the house of God. We can go to any church for healing. But look around... Who is lying on a cot and being ignored? Who DOESN’T feel welcomed here? If people don’t FEEL and EXPERIENCE the Love of God here in God’s house... who’s fault is that? It’s MY fault.
The Church gives us today's readings to make us stop and think...DO we do what the second reading tells us? "Show no partiality". Think about who is NOT here.
The Hispanics? They are Catholic, often more catholic than we are...but I’ve never seen them in our church. Are they welcome?
Who has left our parish family? I know of at least three people who no longer join us because for some reason they don’t feel welcome. They have a sin which they think is unforgivable. Do WE make them feel that way? You know – we can’t condone anybody's sin… but I hate to think they might have left because they don’t feel welcome. You see – as Christians – we fall so easily into judging every action as right or wrong – we see this book as a list of rules to follow - and if the BIBLE says an action is wrong, it’s easy for US to judge the person.
This book is what we read every week…when we hear the words of Jesus, basically we are being offered the preferred way to live...the surest way to experience the blessings that God has in store for us...but when I preach about that preferred way to live, it would be easy for people to hear that I am condemning them....I gotta be real careful about that. Please know that is NOT the case. Every one of us falls short… and therefore every one of us needs healing. No one sin cuts you off from the vine….except the sin of not asking for forgiveness.
Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, and the tongue of the mute. These are the people that according to the old law were cursed by God! Did you get that? The people Jesus was sent to were the people who were considered furthest away from God.
Ephphatha! Be Open! … he commands. But the command falls to us. Be open to people who are different than us. When we judge based on appearance,… WE are the blind. When we judge based on hear-say and gossip,…WE are the deaf. And when we fail to speak words of hope, love, and healing….WE are the mute. Ephphatha… be open!
This Church is the hospital for sinners – and you and I all work in the ER. Maybe it helps to think of it that way, so we can see every person who walks through the door as someone who’s hurt... by their sin.. and by the condemnation of others. Everyone….ourselves included…needs healing.. And if there is ever a Sunday when you DON’T feel like you need healing – like – maybe I don’t need to go to church today, remember – THAT is the day that you need to be here to help someone ELSE heal. People come into our church to EXPERIENCE the love of God … right here… in OUR midst…. If we fail to give them that experience, then we are not fulfilling the mission of Jesus. Look around for someone sitting here today...hurting…or even dying and being ignored...and heal them with love.
Dorothy Day summed it up well:
“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”