Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Acquarello di Marisol

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Feeling Left Out

Feeling left out is one of the most painful of human experiences. We are social beings and long to belong and feel accepted. When we are rejected, ridiculed or ignored because of the color of our skin, because of the way we look, because of the way we talk or because of our economic status, it is among the most humiliating of our memories.

To fit in, I have sometimes compromised myself and my beliefs. I have acted in ways that are contrary to my conscience so others would accept me. I have so feared the rejection and ridicule that society threatens to those who won't conform that I have not always been true to myself.

But there is a new society breaking into human history. There is a new community being gathered by the Word of God. Jesus' death and resurrection has made it possible that those whom the world rejects can find a new home. In Jesus' day it was the leper, the tax collector and the adulterer. In today's world, it's the homosexual who seeks to live a chaste life, it's the person who earns less but gives more, it's the divorced person who longs for communion with God and it's the victim who chooses forgiveness over revenge. God is gathering such people in his quest to renew the earth.

Now, I have a decision to make. Whose friendship do I desire? In whose company do I wish to be found when the doors are closed for the night? I can't be in both places at the same time. What do I desire more? Are the pleasures offered by the beautiful people so valuable that I am willing to exchange my ideals, my principles and beliefs -- essentially, my soul -- for them? Or am I to prefer the society of those who are saved by the One Who created me with those ideals, principles and beliefs?

The gate is narrow. There are some who will not be strong enough to enter. There will be some on the outside because the master does not know where they are from.

Why wouldn't the master know where they are from? Because he doesn't recognize their ideals, principles and beliefs.

Why might we not be strong enough to enter? Because we have never strengthened our muscles by defending and fighting for our ideals, principles and beliefs?

And, why might the gate be too narrow for us? Because we are too bloated from feasting on the world's riches, pleasures and vanities at the expense of our soul.

God is offering me eternal friendship with Him through Jesus. To be sure, it is in exchange for my ideals, principles and values. Not that I abandon them, for he created me with them. He requires that I grow in them and develop them along the lines of His will.

To be on the inside with God, I have to be on the outside with the world. I have to be cast out by the world to be cast into the net of the fishers of men.

Jesus humbled himself to the point of death among thieves so that he could gather what was lost. If I do not humble myself and join the lost, I cannot be found.

The Eucharist is the feast of poor souls. Its dry bread cannot compare to the juicy steaks we'd expect at the Capital Grill or the creamy pastas we'd enjoy at Capriccio's. The sips of wine we wash it down with are closer to the homeless person's ripply than the rich man's bourdeau. But, for those of us on the outside, we see our opportunity to both be poor like Jesus by sharing His meal with sinners and to be rich like Jesus in His intimacy with God. We get a taste of where we are from and where we belong, and we are ushered in by Jesus to the Master's house before the door is bolted fast behind us.