In all honesty, I struggle with Sunday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The phrase “unworthy of eternal life,” directed toward a group of people, especially the Jewish people, is unsettling for me. Maybe I am more sensitive to this as I see it playing out in modern day as politicians and religious leaders have marginalized groups of people who they deem unworthy of protection, support, or identity. These leaders in power often use scripture as a way to support their judgment and marginalization of others. I find it so contrary to the Gospel, and fortunately Jesus has some words to pull me out of despair.
“I know them,” says Jesus. He knows who we are as people, probably better than we know ourselves. He sees us for who we are, and he loves. “I give them eternal life,” Jesus continues. Our lives are not in vain. There is meaning beyond our understanding of life, and we shall live on in ways we can never comprehend. And “no one can take them out of my hand,” meaning that no one here on earth can determine our level of worthiness. Again, notice how Jesus does not even use the word “worthy.” It is irrelevant. But we as humans like to commodify and reduce each other to a certain value. We must move beyond that thinking for it limits our potential to find love and meaning in this life here on earth.
If you needed to hear it today, you are more than worthy, you are loved.
Josh Utter is originally from Madison, WI, and a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, IA. Based in Phoenix, AZ, Josh is the outreach officer for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.