Over centuries, society has had lots of names for people with whom they don’t want to associate — “sinners,” “outcasts,” “untouchables,” “felons,” “foreigners,” … the list goes on and on. There are over thousand ways to group people who are deemed unacceptable. I bet each of us has heard a few groupings in our lifetime that our set of friends and neighbors used for others who they deemed disgraceful and shameful for whatever reason.
Jesus taught us all that there was another way to deal with outcasts. He went to their homes for dinner. He healed them and tended to their wounds, physical and mental. He associated with them and gave them hope. The lower the individual on society’s social ladder, the more time he spent with them. The more toxic, the closer he wanted to be.
We are all outcasts in one way or the other. Even the rich and beautiful often lead the loneliest lives of all. Jesus gave us a window into God’s truth — We are all acceptable in God’s eyes, and he wants us to treat our neighbors the same way he would.
Lent is a good time to “dine with outcasts and sinners,” literally and figuratively.