There was this gospel reading before the Lenten season, where Jesus had lunch with Levi (known as Matthew) and tax collectors, and of all other “bad people” and He was somehow judged by Pharisees.
I’ve already seen the picture I shared, shared by someone from my social media friends’ list, and it made me realise how really open a church should be. I am sometimes saddened by some groups who won’t allow those who’d like to pray or worship God because of what they’re wearing, or of how they look, or where they’re from. Some even post outside of their worship places the only allowed garments to wear when going inside. But what if the clothes they’re wearing, that are posted as not allowed, are the only ones they have on their backs?
I remember a friend of mine invited me to attend the Feast. She was also a Catholic like me, and we went there together, being a Catholic prayer meeting. We attended just 2 sessions together. While I continued to attend, she stopped attending altogether, and joined another Christian denomination. At first, I was sad that she somehow renounced her Catholic faith, but she’s still a Christian, and she had found God there, so who am I really to judge?
Unfortunately, there are those people who still think that the faith you are born in should be the same faith you die in. Some people still judge those who renounce their birth faith. I know of a congregation who even go as far as expulsion, as punishment to those who renounce their faith, as if it’s an exclusive membership.
But then, Church, whatever denomination, how ever the physical place of worship looks like, is a hospital in a sense. I’ve met people who go to the Feast, or to church because they are hurting: their relationships are broken, their finances are dwindling, their spirits are drained, their hearts are hardened.. These are the “illnesses” that the Church can help with, directly or indirectly. These need to be prayed about, prayed for. These need the counselling, or the support of someone who has gone through the same things and overcame them, or are still going through it but fighting and nearly winning.
Overall, just let anyone inside Church. No exclusive membership. No dress codes. No secret passwords. No qualifiers. Healthy, happy, healed, whole, come in. Broken, depressed, hurting, incomplete, you are welcome. The church, other than being a hospital, should also feel like home.
“Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
Luke 5:31-32 | NABRE