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Everlasting Love

As Jesus was going on down the road, he saw a tax collector, Matthew, sitting at a tax collection booth. "Come and be my disciple." Jesus said to him, and Matthew jumped up and went along with him.

Later, as Jesus and his disciples were eating dinner [at Matthew's house], there were many notorious swindlers there as guests!

The Pharisees were indignant, "Why does your teacher associate with men like that?"

"Because people who are well don't need a doctor! It's the sick people who do!" was Jesus' reply. Then he added, "Now go away and learn the meaning of this verse of Scripture, 'It isn't your sacrifices and your gifts I want - I want you to be merciful.' For I have come to urge sinners, not the self-righteous, back to God." Matthew 9:9-13 (TLB)

For long ago the Lord had said to Israel: I have loved you, O my people, with an everlasting love; with loving-kindness I have drawn you to me. Jeremiah 31:3 (TLB)

April McIntyre lives in England. Binky was their Yorkshire terrier. He wasn't the typical tiny, silky, yapping creature you might imagine. He had been the largest of his litter. His tail had not been docked; his ears flopped. Despite his pedigree, according to breed standards he was a failure. To them, however, he was a real character: barking at the mail carrier with a big dog bark, chasing cats from the garden, and always ready for another walk. And sometimes he would glare and show his teeth at them. Nevertheless, he was part of the family, and they loved him.

We all need to love and be loved. But even if we have been Christians for years, we can struggle to believe that God really loves us. In our Gospel passage today, Jesus shows the nature of God's everlasting love when he seeks out those who have been rejected by society. Jesus spends quality time with them and calls them to follow him.

When we allow Jesus to lead us to God, God accepts us, however imperfect or "different" we may be. God patiently heals our deepest hurts and hang-ups because we are all part of God's beloved family.

Prayer: Dear God, we come to you today with all our hurts and failures. Help us to know that you accept us and love us always, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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