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Daily Devotional for January 13

January 13                                                        Mark 2:13-22

Today's reading describes your calling of Levi, a Jew, who
collected taxes from his own people on behalf of imperialist
Rome. Little wonder that he was despised and considered an
outcast by his people.

Jesus, many people couldn't understand why you sought the
company of tax collectors and other social miscreants. Nor
could they understand why you and your disciples did not
fast like other good and holy men and women. You did not
seem to behave as many expected a religious teacher or prophet
to behave.

Jesus, help me not to be afraid to associate with society's
outcasts: homeless street people, prostitutes, transvestites,
pedophiles, people with AIDS, or the poor who depend on
welfare checks and food stamps.

And yet, just being on the underside of economic power, or
not having political influence, or feeling the burdens of ecclesi-
astical structures - these things do not in themselves make
us right with you, Jesus. We can so easily create our own caste
of outcasts, people toward whom we may be tempted to feel
superior and with whom we may arrogantly feel that you
would never eat and drink and share your intimacy.

Just as devout Jews self-righteously scorned Levi as a greedy
traitor, so we have our own pariahs to look down upon. Our
Levi's are the black police officers of South Africa employed
by the white apartheid government. Our Levi's are the religious
leaders who enforce doctrinal orthodoxy at the expense of
God's command to love. Our Levi's are the politicians,
businesspeople, and scientists who perpetuate a military-
industrial complex that keeps the Third World supplied with
weapons instead of with food.

Help me today, Jesus, to be critical of unjust systems but
compassionate toward those who are trapped in them, for you
are also calling them to be your disciples. Amen.

From The Road to Emmaus - An inclusive devotional Edited by Joseph W. Houle

Emmaus House of Prayer - Washington D.

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