We are not standing before an organized banquet with personalized invitations. Jesus is simply seated around the table, and He attracts all those who, as a sign of friendship, wish to share their meal with Him. It’s an ancient sign, a sign of hospitality, an openness to others that meets not only the primary need for nourishment as it evokes much more: to remain with the Teacher, while one of the insuppressible gestures per human beings encompassing the deep symbolism representing friendship, simplicity exchanged words and gazes, is put into place in a very simple, ordinary, common setting. The Teacher, prompted by the remarks of those who felt perturbed in their dignity as people respectful of the Law, engraves into the history of humanity a lesson that has the power to prompt a change, giving rise to a new era:
Mercy I want.
He aims straight at the heart, at the place of intelligence and will, of the free choice to become the person we wish to be without succumbing to habits, regulations or dictates that through external judgment may label others along with their actions.
“24 hours for the Lord” is not an enticing and fruitful slogan of some business, or one promoting an extraordinary offer of goods.
It’s a calling to consciences, to wake them from their torpor, to make them step out of the shadows of selfishness which inevitably weigh on our relationship with Jesus Christ and hence with our fellowmen.
Thus takes shape that state of sin that distances us from the Creator, a state that mistakes the filial relationship with a duty needing to be fulfilled, possibly without too much effort and without spending too much. He, the Man God, does not condemn us and does not allow us to be overcome by own hogwash. He knows the extent to which, even without saying it, it torments us.
He offers us the simple, healthy cure that everyone can access.
All it takes is to look inside ourselves and discover the extent to which reconciliation was conceived and created for us, for each one of us. Sinner because limited, sinner because carried away by events, sinner because enable to react to the overwhelming current. If we identify ourselves as such, we will have also identified our place inside the Church: seated around the table with Jesus Christ. As reconciled sinners. The sacrament lays us bare, not by a scrutinising gaze that passes judgement, but by a gaze that restores us to ourselves, with a thrust of suffering that is the gift of salvation bestowed by the One and only that is sharing His meal with us.
Mercy is not naiveness; it is not lack of adhesion to reality or mystification to justify ourselves. Mercy means letting ourselves be inundated by that Blood that bestows salvation and pacifies human consciences, and which, instead of pricking and causing anguish, can sing the praises of God because it knows that the Father is always forgiving.
We shouldn’t expect a punishment, a due to be paid, we can only but experience that joyful lightness of one who, having assumed his own responsibilities, feels free and ready to start living again. It’s a sort of resurrection, relinquishing a state where darkness and shadows prevailed, and embrace one where now the Light is shining. It’s not an automatic gesture. It’s a gesture signifying the profound belief, acknowledging and recognizing oneself as poor and indigent yet still as a son.
The 24-hour proposal should spread throughout all of our environments and gush as an impetuous stream, which, as it flows, sings and invites to be listened to. A moment when the gift allows itself to be touched, inscribing into real life the seal of love, and not that of accusal. A sacrament waiting to be received and shape us to we may all become mere instruments and announcers of mercy because we carry inside us that very contagious Light.
Letting days and years go by without reconciling oneself with the Father means losing a huge treasure, losing the regeneration that heals our environment, our families and society as a whole.
It’s that very transformation that we can all experience, in the face of events that affect us every day and fail to bear witness to our humanity, to our capacity of being welcoming, whose roots are found in Reconciliation. If we knew how to quench our thirst at the torrent, nothing would seem difficult or impossible to us. The One who shares His meals with us nourishes us and shows us the way He was the first to take. Our reconciliation is not closed in on itself, and the more is it painful and joyful, the more it is contagious and creates mercy in turn.