No matter where we are in life, Jesus is always around, calling us to “follow Him.”


Today’s gospel is very consoling. I like it that Jesus eats and drinks with sinners. As a sinner, it is very comforting for me to hear that Jesus is this comfortable with people like me. It is reassuring that He called Matthew to be one of his apostles – a fellow who was a tax collector, and therefore, a compromiser. Matthew was a Jew but he worked for Rome, extorting taxes from his own people.

This Gospel takes me back to my post early this week, “Follow Me”.

Here is Jesus saying, “follow me and everything is alright…and if you want to leave I can guarantee you won’t find nobody else like me.” Jesus calls Matthew, a sinful tax collector, to come follow Him and the righteous Pharisees strongly object. The lyrics to the song match the reading perfectly, because there is no one else like Jesus.

Obviously, Matthew wasn’t liked by the people. (They didn’t like taxes then, either, and he wasn’t even claiming to collect them for a worthy cause.) So, when Jesus called him to follow Him and then goes to his house for dinner that night, where there were others known to be sinners, it created quite a stir among the religious leaders. Jesus is Himself breaking the Law here, and by eating with sinners He is rendering Himself ritually unclean, that is, He is excommunicating Himself from temple worship. He would ordinarily have to be purified before He could return to the temple, after such an infraction of the Law.

“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  It is interesting that the Pharisees ask this question of Jesus’ disciples. They had learned to be careful in their attacks on Jesus’ behavior and they thought they would see how the disciples replied. Jesus was listening, as He listens now, to not only their words but also to their self-righteous hearts. His reply cuts to the bone: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” He silenced them and He should get our full attention, too! No matter where we are in life, Jesus is always around, calling us to “follow Him.”

No matter how badly we make a mess of life or mix up our priorities, Jesus is always forgiving and eager to have us follow Him once again. We are reminded to always do our best to follow Him despite other things going on in life.

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Jesus challenged their thinking about being religious and He is challenging ours. It is so consoling for all of us who are sinners. God doesn’t love us because we earn it, deserve it, or prove how good we are. God loves us because we need loving, because we need forgiving, because we can’t earn His love. And, because we have experienced ourselves as “love-sinners,” – that is who we are – we are moved by grace to love other sinners, too. Being a sinner who is healed by God’s love allows us, blesses us, to love the same way – through compassion, forgiveness, and accompaniment. This self-sacrificing love sends us to be for and with those who need loving – even those who don’t seem to deserve it – starting with people in our families, in our churches, and those with whom we work.

How much grace would flow from each of us responding to the call to eat and drink with a few sinners tonight, and to enjoy them, affirm them and love them as Jesus did?

How closely do we live with Jesus, who came and lived among us, eating with sinners, healing all who were sick, giving us the example of a life lived in peace and harmony? Can we learn to ‘walk in the Law of the Lord’ as Jesus did?

Lord, give me the strength to acknowledge my sinfulness, to reflect honestly on my way of life, and, with God’s grace, to make whatever changes I am called to make. May your grace, which brought this grace to our hearts and opened them, bring it to great fruitfulness in love and charity, in ways we can’t even imagine. Amen.

Dear reader, if you found this article helpful, consider supporting this work so that we can be able to take the daily word to even more people that long for it.

Your gift will help us in paying the costs that come with this ministry work and to help our new apostolate among the children of Home Sweet Orphanage. Thank you so much.

 

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