Jesus ate with sinners. In public sometimes. This did not endear Him to the religious leaders of His time. To eat with someone meant that you were equals in some sense.
Jesus lived a morally upright life, but some of those dinner partners were anything but morally upright. Once when asked about it, Jesus replied that it was the sick that needed a doctor. It is clear that He dined with them because He was trying to change the hearts of sinners and He knew that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. One great example of this was with Zacchaeus, the tax collector of Jericho.
In other Gospel passages, we hear Jesus talk about those who reject Him and His message. Those are not pretty passages, such as, “When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’” Luke 13:25-27 (NRSV)
One would imagine that not everyone Jesus dined with changed their lives to be more like His. Some rejected Him and His message.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the Bible has a very definite moral code and that this code also covers the area of sexuality. As Christians we try to conform our lives to be in accord with that code.
Unfortunately, we sinners do not always live up to the standards set before us. However, we do not rip out the parts of the Bible that disagree with our current practices. That would be like spitting in the face of God. And yet many people, some who claim to be Christian, are ready to tell God what is right and what is wrong rather than the other way around.
Living up to morally high biblical standards is sometimes not easy for the Christian. Therefore we as brothers and sisters are sometimes called to challenge each other’s behavior. We know from experience that modelling our lives on what Jesus taught has the great benefit of bringing a peace and joy into our lives, the kind of peace and joy that the world can never offer.
As Thomas Sowell once said, “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”
Attempting to make people feel good about a sinful lifestyle doesn’t help them and is not really compassionate. I would never recommend to an active drug addict that they just keep doing what they’re doing so that they will not feel bad. If they don’t stop, the result could very possibly be loss of everything in their lives and maybe even death. Love for that person would mean challenging them.
God spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, NAB)
When we accept as normal the practices around us that go directly against God’s Word, no good will come from it.
The nation of Israel was conquered more than once because they were unfaithful to their covenant with God, and the prophets were sent to warn them beforehand where their infidelity would lead. Some of those prophets were killed by their outraged countrymen, including Jesus.
Christians sometimes examine their own consciences to see how their faith life is really doing. For me, one of the things I use to do is to ask one simple question to my heart: How much do I look and sound like the culture around me?
Fr. Steve Parlet, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church can be reached at 395-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.