Pentecost 23, Wednesday, Year C

Inspired by Matthew 21:28-32

“Jesus said to [the chief priests and elders], ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.’”  Matthew 21:31b-32 (NRSV)

Increasingly we are able to surround ourselves only with those who agree with us and support what we already believe.  We get our news from outlets that are biased toward our own worldview; we get our analysis from commentators known to have a political agenda similar to our own.  We listen only to the voices that reinforce our own entrenched positions, and we never allow ourselves to be challenged by a different interpretation.  Whenever we do encounter a different interpretation or worldview, we dismiss the validity of the position by attacking and devaluing the people who hold it, failing to recognize that they too may have something of importance to add to the conversation.

We are blinding ourselves to much of God’s work in the world, and we’re not the first to do so.

The Pharisees were confident in the truth of their own understandings.  They knew they were righteous, and they equated righteousness with themselves.  They failed to recognize righteousness when it came to them in another form, such as John the Baptist.  They were repelled by the ‘unrighteous’ company that followed him: tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners.  Such people couldn’t possibly know anything about God, so the Pharisees felt free to reject and revile them and what they proclaimed.

The Pharisees had impoverished themselves out of the richness of God’s mercy.

God works in many ways and through many people; he is generous with his abundant grace and mercy.  Don’t deprive yourself of his richness by isolating yourself inside your own understanding; God’s work goes far beyond your personal experience, and his love joins together people with a variety of worldviews.  There are many people, many interpretations, many opinions, and one God embracing us all with his love.

Let us pray.  Lord of righteousness, your work is beyond our comprehension.  Open our eyes to the diversity of your love, that we may recognize your mercy in places we wouldn’t otherwise look.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.