While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. Luke 11:37-41
I remember being a child in grade school, hardly able to breathe through the school day on Halloween. Everything hung on the end of the day, it getting dark and our setting out into the neighborhood. Safety was of no concern, as was having dinner or anything else. All that mattered was getting out there and getting the goodies. The absolute fun of being a child on a school night able to walk around in the dark with other kids and demands candy from adults. We couldn't worry about the proper things that adults worried about - cleanliness, nutrition, hygiene - we child soldiers on a missions to conquer the world in one night. We may have conquered only candy and a few hours of freedom but the joy was real and lasting.
Jesus encounters those who live by very strict rules and who judge others by the same. He is criticized for not washing before dinner, following the customs of his people. His mission and zeal always took precedence for him over the customs and rules of his day. People, love and compassion took precedence also for him. And he bristled at the adults who made the rules the center of their faith rather than love and service. We are invited today to live as people who put others first, who honor love and compassion before custom and rules. We are invited to be like children, who rush with joy to the arms of love and compassion.
On this Halloween, the Eve of All Saints', may we remember the love and joy we have been given as children. May we not be anxious about the proper ways but act in love, compassion and forgiveness at all times. May we reach out for those who are outside of the customs and rules of our people and bring them God's joy this day.