So, there’s this particular family that goes to the church we attend in Mesa, AZ. I almost can’t keep my eyes off of them. Here’s the makeup: There is a patriarch and a matriarch, somewhere in the neighborhood of my age or a bit older. They have three daughters, two of whom are married, and one of whom is not (or at least her significant other never attends Mass with them). One of the married daughters has two children, a girl and a boy; the other married daughter has five children, all boys (imagine that!). The aforementioned second daughter’s husband’s parents sit with them as well, as does his brother and wife, who have a young son. Have you lost count yet? Some iteration of two or three of the aforementioned people come to Mass early so as to save a couple of pews so that they can all sit together – every Sunday. As the Mass progresses, the kids – who range in age from somewhere around 10 all the way down to six or seven months – move around from parent to parent and grandparent to grandparent. In fact, the kids don’t even choose by blood relation, as they will sit on anyone’s lap.
Well, I will admit that the patriarch of the family doesn’t get much involved in the lap-sitting. He just gazes quietly at the brood, undoubtedly thinking that he – like Abraham – has descendants as abundant as the stars in the heavens.
They are a sight to behold, as you might imagine. So much love. Such committed faith. That crazy, mixed-up family most assuredly demonstrates the old African proverb it takes a village.
God loves us in the same way that the members of that family love one another. He loves us without thought to who we are, what we do for a living, what we look like, who we will vote for. Unconditional love.
The gospel reading demonstrates God’s unconditional love of us, through his son Jesus. In the gospel reading, Luke tells us about the tax collector (and isn’t it ALWAYS the tax collector?) who comes to hear Jesus speak. I admit to be a bit distracted by the fact that he was so short that he actually climbed a tree in order to hear Jesus teach. Nevertheless, climb the tree he does, as ridiculous as it must have looked, even back in those days. But rather than saying “Get out of that tree; you look plain silly,” Jesus instead suggests the man come down out of the tree, and then, to the horror of the crowd, invites himself to the tax collector’s house for dinner. Why? Because the tax collector is sorry for the wrongs he has committed on a daily basis and asks for God’s forgiveness. And because God loves all of us unconditionally.
Perhaps we too need to learn how to love people for who they are and not judge because they think differently than we do. As I look at social media every day, it becomes more and more apparent that we have become a people who point fingers at one another. We judge – and ARE judged – by our political choices and religious beliefs.
Perhaps Jesus’ suggestion that the man come down out of the tree is the 30 A.D. version of turning off Facebook, which is maybe what I ought to do for bit.
And appropo to nothing that I spoke of above, here is a photo of another spectacular AZ sunset from my brother’s patio, more proof of God’s love…..
I guess the short man didn’t try to climb a cactus.
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