HE LIVED life surrounded by people who were in some way destitute; people whom life’s struggle had broken and beaten into shambles. They were the castaways of society who endured positions of shame and scorn, or held no particular position and so were nobodies. They might have been despised and shunned by society, or they might not have been thought of much at all. They were seen as forsaken by God for their wretchedness, and there was no hope in their religion—none at all—for them to ever set things right. They were the people whom the rest of society would just as soon have seen dead. In the eyes of the world, they were utterly, justifiably and deservedly condemned.
But he, in opposition to all of society’s judgments, loved them. He spoke to them. He reclined and ate with them. He touched them. He considered them to be his friends and family. He told them they were not lost, but found. He told them God loved and cared for them. He told them that God’s kingdom itself belonged to, of all people, them. And he meant it. In repayment for this radical vision of a deeply loving and profoundly compassionate God, the pious and the powerful tortured him until he died.