This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.

As I prepared the readings postings for this week, I was struck, as I always am, by Saturday’s Gospel.

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

As I was perusing blogs today, I stopped suddenly when I read this over at Elizabeth Esther’s blog.

Once we identify ourselves by anything other than Christ, we diminish the Gospel. It’s easy to stop seeing the image of God in each person and instead see only their outward manifestation: the clothes they wear, their facial expressions, the cause they support.

I am deeply conflicted currently as someone very close to me has begun attending an evangelical church and essentially abandoned the Catholic church. Her reason is this: it is a better service that more of her friends attend. Since the structure of the mass is not going to change to the level of spectacle this church is known for and it is doubtful even if it did that a lot of her friends would suddenly be joining RCIA, I am left only to pray. When mass or services become more about who we see there than about Christ, it is wrong. When a church becomes more about conservative dress or looking down on those not adhering to certain dress code ideals instead of Christ, it is wrong. Our focus must and should remain with Christ and being at the table with Him rather than deciding whom we think should have been invited and or why someone we do not deem worthy has been invited by Him.

Lent has always been a time to turn our focus to the cross. To see Christ crucified and know that God had to allow that evil for a greater good. To know that we are not worthy of His sacrifice regardless of whether we wear pants or skirts (ladies) or have long or short hair (gentlemen). We are all sinners. We must acknowledge this truth in order to begin to see Christ as our savior. To see Him and know that He came down to our level that he did not choose the pious Pharisees or the High Priests. He chose fisherman, tax collectors, the poor, the infirm, the imprisoned. He chose us. Now it is up to us to choose to fix our gaze on Him.