Today's Pray As You Go invites us to reflect upon Matthew's story of Jesus dining with "tax collectors and other sinners" and the resultant rage of "the righteous."
Among my biggest challenges for the past nearly four years have been group gatherings of all kinds. Ironic, given my line of work. In my defense, I can only say that I had no way of knowing that this particular difficulty would persist.
In ministry, I am cautious, often turning down invitations to meals which, given their chronological proximity to other highly populated events (worship for instance), are likely to send me right over the edge.
Among my close friends, I follow the same practice, only moreso. Whatever the reason, many of the people whom I love prefer to travel in packs. That was all well and good for the first twenty years or so that a group of us hung out together, when I, too, enjoyed communal socialability. These days, it's difficult. I do what I can, but more often than not, I fail. And others fail me. During those periods in which I long for a quiet one-on-one meal or cup of coffee, what I get are requests to join a crowd. And when I screw up my courage and determine to preserve my friendships by doing exactly that ~ everyone has disappeared.
It occurred to me during my quiet time this morning that Jesus always gets it right. For the tax collectors, so often isolated from conversation and friendship, a big dinner was just the ticket. For Nicodemus, probably inundated by people and their problems day in and day out, a quiet, late night one-on-one was required.
I suppose that the call of this particular passage is to fret less about my own desires and needs for particular types of interactions, and to focus more on those of others.
But ~ can you hear my whine? ~ I thought I was already doing that . . . .
Sigh . . . .
Image: He Qi's Samaritan Woman ~ someone else for whom a quiet encounter was the prize.