And passing on from there Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax-collection house, and says to him, “Follow me.” And rising he followed him. And it happened that, as he was reclining at table in the house, look: Many tax-collectors and sinners came and reclined at table with Jesus and his disciples. And, seeing this, the Pharisees said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” But he heard them and said, “The hale do not have need of a physician, but rather those who are ill. Go then and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’; for I come to call not the upright, but sinners.”.
Now a certain one of the Pharisees requested him to dine with him, and entering the Pharisee’s house he reclined at table. And look: There was a woman in the city who was a sinner, and knowing that he is reclining in the home of the Pharisee, and bringing an alabaster phial of unguent. And standing behind, weeping at his feet, she began to make his feet wet with her tears, and she wiped them off with the hair of her head, and fervently kissed his feet and anointed them with unguent. But, seeing this, the Pharisee who had invited him talked to himself, saying, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and of what sort this woman who touches him is, for she is a sinner.” And in reply Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” … And turning to the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your home, you did not give me water for my feet; but she washed my feet with her tears and wiped them off with her hair. You gave me no kiss of friendship, but she from the time I entered has not ceased fervently kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil; but she anointed my feet with unguent. By virtue of which, I tell you, her sins—which are many—have be forgiven, because she loved much; but one to whom little is forgiven loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” And those reclining at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman: “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” thee; go in peace.
— The New Testament: A Translation, by David Bentley Hart
This is the meal equally set—this is the meat for
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous—I
make appointments with all;
I will not have a single person slighted or left away;
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited;
The heavy-lipp’d slave is invited—the venerealee is invited:
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.
— Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
If you become degraded, criminal, ill, then I become so for your
If you remember your foolish and outlaw’d deeds, do you think
I cannot remember my own foolish and outlaw’d deeds?
If you carouse at the table I carouse at the opposite side of the
If you meet some stranger in the streets and love him or her, why
I often meet strangers in the street and love them.
Why what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you then that thought yourself less?
Is it you that thought the President greater than you?
Or the rich better off than you? or the educated wiser than you?
(Because you are greasy or pimpled, or were once drunk, or a
Or that you are diseas’d, or rheumatic, or a prostitute,
Or from frivolity or impotence, or that you are no scholar and
never saw your name in print,
Do you give in that you are any less immortal?)
Walt Whitman, “A Song for Occupations”
Recall Christ, brother of rejected persons—brother of
slaves, felons, idiots, and of insane and diseas’d
Walt Whitman, “Think of the Soul”
In my senior year in high school, I took an IQ test administered by a graduate student at Boston University. A question on the test, which he administered orally, was why should one not associate with disreputable people? I answered that I did not agree with the premise.
Some fifty years later, I still feel the same way.
I have learned a great deal from, and my life has been enriched by, people of all levels of intelligence, backgrounds, occupations, persuasions, personality types, idiosyncracies, and life situations.
I have given rides and handouts to just released ex-convicts; associated with people whose opinions and/or behavior could be considered immoral, criminal, improper, antisocial, deviant, clueless, or odd by others; have never chosen my friends according to their political or religious views.
The driving force, in my own experience, behind making acquaintances and forming friendships has been: how is that person disposed towards ME? Do they wish to associate and communicate; do they desire or need human contact? Then, I find that it behooves me to respond affirmatively. I am a priori willing to accept anyone as a friend.
I have benefited, immeasurably, from such associations. These people have taught me so much or, to put it the other way around, I have learned so much from them.
I see no reason to change.
And, I am amazed and gladdened by the innate goodness and sincerity of so many people who are prone to neglect and sometimes scorn or to being rejected by polite society.
— Roger W. Smith