The woman’s childhood had been marked by one abuse after another. There had been no Good Samaritan to rescue her, no defender to protect her. She had grown up and tried everything to numb her pain; she’d made mistakes that she’d paid for dearly, both in the justice system and in her own soul. When she sat before Father Boyle, a priest who helps rehabilitate former gang members in L.A., it was in desperation, repentance, and utter brokenness.
“I wish you were God,” she told the priest hopelessly. “Because maybe you’d let me into Heaven.” Father Boyle looked her in the eye with a heart full of compassion and answered her, “If I get to Heaven and you aren’t there, I’m not staying.”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said. “For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:2)
Although Jesus came for everyone, the essence of Jesus’ ministry on Earth was to bring the good news of inclusion to those who were convinced they were counted out. Over and over again, His actions and words reiterated that He had not come for the ones who thought they were perfect, the ones who already had their act together and had no need for God. He came for the ones who knew their need—the ones for whom He was the only hope.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, He tells us; blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek. The Kingdom of Heaven is not like the kingdoms of the Earth, where the mightiest and most outwardly successful reign supreme. Jesus’ upside down kingdom lifts up those who are lowest—the desperate, the repentant, the violated—and tells them they are loved more than they can ever imagine. They are included because they know they need Him.
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No one is excluded from this Kingdom. Everyone, everyone, is invited in. All we have to do is take His hand. Are you ready to do this, today?
Shannon Evans is a Protestant missionary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. She is a writer, podcaster, and speaker, but potty training four boys will be the achievement on her epitaph. Shannon and her family make their home in central Iowa, where they seek to live out the social teachings of the Church in their small and ordinary days. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: The Our Father study found here.