The world of Jesus was divided into two: there were those who thought themselves acceptable in the sight of God, and those who believed that they were hated by God. The “beloved of God” were those who had paid their temple taxes, had learned The Law, and had ensured that they had made the necessary sacrifices. These were “the wise”. Then there were the rest: these were the people who had not paid what they should (often because they were too poor), and had not learned the religious rules (often because they were not educated) and who had not made the necessary sacrifices (because of poverty, or because they were ill and therefore not allowed into the temple). They were known as the am ha’aretz - the rabble, or the “little ones” who had not yet attained spiritual maturity.
Jesus challenges the idea that only a special few have knowledge and experience of God. Instead, he turns this idea on its head by insisting that God takes a preferential option for the weakest, and the least and the most vulnerable. The good news that has been handed down through the generations of our faith is that is that when we are at our most fragile, we can call to God, who offers to share the weight of our burden - "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. The challenge of our faith is that we who are religious need to unlearn our contempt for the “irreligious rabble”, and discover the deep love of the Father for those who struggle the most in life – whether this struggle is poverty, illness, or simply the inability to believe.
Prayer: O God of love: may I be able to show the same patience and compassion towards the weaknesses in other people that you have shown to me. Amen
Second Sunday after Epiphany“Come follow me”
(Scripture reference page 59 A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)