Squirrels are interchangeable. To see one nervous, darting, fluff-tail-balanced, imperious nut-nibbling imp-rodent is to see them all.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus laments for Jerusalem en masse, a city he wills to protect as a hen would her chicks, because he sees that its judgment will come the same way, en masse. In Luke, he weeps for the people he knows will be destroyed, then identifies them with the impersonal, interchangeable stones soon to be torn from the wall they thought would protect them.

Condemnation conforms with classifying and generalizing, and not wrongly. We are condemned not only by our personal sins but because we are children of Adam, all. But we also categorize and pigeon-hole imprecisely, seeing signs of confirmation, ignoring signs of distinction: to see one “long-haired freaky” person or fence-building trespass-shooter is to see them all.

Then a scrawny-tailed squirrel crosses my path, and before I have time to pass my normal judgment—why on earth does a squirrel suddenly lunge right when I’m most likely to hit it—I realize I’ve assumed its gender and assigned its backstory, wondering if his tail is thinning because he’s poorly fed, sick, young, or just different.

Jesus does not come into the world’s crowds to condemn us. We are condemned already—justly so. Jesus enters the crowd of the identically contemptible and sees every individual’s scrawny tail or withered forelimb: purifying a leper, healing a gentile’s servant or the woman who touches the fringe of his tallit (surrounded by a crowd confused that he wonders about an individual), receiving the ruler who seeks him by night, freeing a demoniac shunned by his town, raising a man no one would lower into Bethesda’s pool.

We dismiss our sins against individuals with the phrase, “It’s not personal.” Rejection is not. Condemnation is not. Redemption is.

To a week remembering that every person we meet has distinctions, wounds, and a backstory, and regarding each as the person Jesus travels through crowds to find and redeem.