Friday, May 25, 2012

The Taxman

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13

It that kind of Friday and has been that kind of week where we need music and lightness in the face of small irritating challenges that somehow accumulate and make us all irritable. It has been a week of overcast skies and high humidity with low barometric pressure. The dog is regularly hiding under our bed, or curled up on her bed looking depressed. So, a little lightheartedness and the music attached are offered to lighten the mood and remember that even the Beatles thought the taxman was repugnant, and made a hit out of the pain of being taxed. Go to: to hear the Beatles's remaster hit - The Taxman.

Jesus calls the most despicable person to follow him. Folks in Jesus' community liked criminals better than they did the taxman. The taxman represented a corrupt and occupying government, one that raised taxes on the least able to pay, and which took no notice of the needs of the people. The roman government was cruel and so Matthew was painted with the same brush of paint as the people's worst enemy. God chooses the least likely, the problem people, those with a past to be followers and among the faithful. And as it irritated the religious leadership then, it irritates us now. But it shouldn't, because if we are honest, all of us are despicable, each in our own way, each of us has been selfish and cruel in our own time. And God chooses to sit with us and abide with us and love us because of and despite our cruel and inhuman behaviors.

Today, I ask God to help me to refrain from judging others, not labeling them as sinners or enemies but seeing them as God see them - as the beloved also. May my heart be broken open to truly love my enemies, those who disagree with me, those who have hurt me, those who live for themselves to the destruction of others, and those whose selfishness has caused the downfall of others. God loves them, and sits at table with them, and in Matthew's calling, we are invited to love beyond our human understanding. May God sit at table with us today so that we might expand our love and forgiveness to our hurting world.

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