Memorial of St. Cornelius, pope, and St. Cyprian, bishop, martyrs
(I Timothy 3:14-16; Luke 7:31-35)
“You will be known by the company you keep,” our mothers used to tell us. They were only repeating a proverb that generally serves its listeners well. Not only are people inclined to judge us as good or bad on the basis of our associates, but also we tend to become like our friends.
But folk wisdom has its limitations. What do we do, for example, when proverbs contradict one another? Is “discretion the better part of valor” or is “the one who hesitates lost”? Obviously, we have to look beneath the surface to attain the truth in matters like this. Just so, Jesus appeals to his listeners in the gospel today to look beyond what meets their eyes to the effect that his eating and drinking with sinners creates. He is not conforming to their sinful ways, but sinners are leaving behind their sins like corn dogs at a gourmet fest.
Jesus is telling us not only to stop judging by superficial criteria but also to step out of our social confines. He wants the young to greet the elderly, blacks and whites to dialogue together, and workers to extend a hand to the unemployed. Whether we talk about Jesus or not when we reach beyond our typical company, we give testimony to his goodness by imitating his ways.