Guest Writer: Chris Schaefer, Ragamuffins all are we!
“The gospel portrait of Jesus is that of a person who cherished life and especially other people as loving gifts from the Father’s hand…The living presence of Jesus awakened joy and set people free. Joy was in fact the most characteristic result of all His ministry to ragamuffins.” Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Yup, that’s me! A long time ago! It was Halloween a few days after my Confirmation. My mom and I decided I would dress as a hobo, a ragamuffin if you will. With an old dress shirt and tie of my dad’s, a candy cigarette, some well placed eyebrow pencil for my moustache and beard and a funny hat, I was ready to go. But wait I wanted to take something more. The bouquet of flowers I had received from my mom and dad after my confirmation was going to go with me. The flowers were special to me. At 12 did I understand how special? Not a chance! But after reading Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, I see just how symbolic my youthful gesture was. I realize I am the ragamuffin of my youth and I always will be because it is to the ragamuffins that Jesus brought joy, to us through His love and forgiveness.
Luke in his gospel says, “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (5:30-32) I am one of those sinners but that is okay because I am loved for who I am, not in spite of who I am. I am a card-carrying ragamuffin and proud of it.
I look at this picture of me and see so much. I see me, the ragamuffin standing there, but I also see myself carrying the bouquet of Jesus with me and that 12-year-old that is still within me, like the picture, is joyful. I am joyful in that I know that I am loved and there is nothing I can do to lose that love nor was there anything that I did to earn that love. I will always be a ragamuffin because no matter how hard I try I will sin again and again. I will cry to Jesus my sorrow and ask for His forgiveness. Because as Louis Evely said in That Man is You, “If we weren’t sinners and didn’t need pardon more than bread, we’d have no way of knowing how deep God’s love is.” So, I am a joyful ragamuffin walking in His eternal love. Swinging the bouquet of Jesus around for all to see. This ragamuffin says come smell my beautiful bouquet. It is the sweet smell of a loving and forgiving Jesus. And I want to share my joy with you!