Who is an outcast?
If we look into Merriam-Webster it will say: “one that is cast out or refused acceptance (as by society)
The definition for society or community can be vast. To also recognize it can stretch beyond immediate circles. An immediate circle can be our family of origin, also known as our birth family. This immediate circle as we grow can expand to our chosen family, which can include fictive kin and also the family we marry into. Then we branch our communities outward, to educational institutions, churches or spiritual homes, civic groups, employers, athletic teams and so on.
In looking at those descriptions, for many of us, if we sit down and think about it we have experienced being an outcast at some point in our lives. No matter how brief or extensive, these diverse experiences of not being included, each left an imprint upon hearts.
Then I have expanded the way that I see an outcast is anyone who is asked to do something that goes against who they are, that may harm their personal well being, in order to belong to a group. As we live through the story of Jesus each Lenten season through Easter, we are reminded, that he too was an outcast. That Jesus not only went to outcasts, but he went to fellow outcasts. Jesus was speaking out against and crucified over the common law at that time of having to do something to receive something. Simply stated, Jesus said there is another way to live. Jesus was asking us to change how we were living and to not live by the laws of saying one person had less value than another person.
The very reality is, that Jesus asks us to live a life where hope can be found in the mercy God freely offers, which reminds me of the Albert Einstein quote, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another”. To recognize fellow outcasts among us, changing the action of exclusion to one of inclusion, (Luke 6:27-28) that is merciful compassion and that is the agape-love Jesus asked Peter if he had for him(John 21:15-17). In this instance, Jesus was asking Peter if there had been a move to that place of radical inclusive love.
The life of Jesus, asks us to reach and to include everyone, not always needing someone higher or lower than someone else. In a reality we are all within mercy, we simply bring that mercy forward in different ways and through different experiences. (Matthew 10:29-31) For our lives as an outcast, we have the choice to move to a place of inclusive love. To then choose how we will expand that inclusive love in radical ways into our society. This we are asked to do, even if we are an outcast.