As Jesus moved on from there, He saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and he said to him, «Follow me». And Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and other sinners joined Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, «Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?». When Jesus heard this he said, «Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means: ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice’. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners».
We all wish to be happy. As Christian, our happiness depends upon our capacity to identify the will of God and the way we engage to accomplish this will in our daily life. The more we engage and accomplish, the more we will be able to cherish the eternal happiness.
Certainly, we will be asked to empty something which are blocking us to cherish this happiness. For Mathew, it was his power and possession which were a stumbling block for this happiness. The moment he realised his call and responded positively to this call, he has already entered into this eternal happiness.
Many of us find difficult to do away or to empty ourselves, because we don’t know the mission and we fill ourselves with many good things which doesn’t serve us. It is here Jesus comes to help us to identify this mission by calling each and every one of us to follow him. Without identifying this mission, it is very difficult to follow Jesus and all the more to empty something good and pleasing to us.
In spite our weakness and sinfulness, if we dare to follow Jesus, we will certainly find Him filled with mercy and compassion. It is in this divine mercy that we are called to participate and make others to participate in this divine love. Just like Abraham, we should remain watchful that we don’t fall back to the old way of living.
+ Fr. Pere CAMPANYÀ i Ribó
Today, the Gospel speaks to us of a vocation, that of Matthew the publican. Jesus is preparing a small group of disciples that would continue his work of Salvation. And He chooses whom He wants: whether fishermen or from humble professions. He even calls to follow him, a tax collector, a highly abhorred role by the Jews —who considered themselves as perfect Law-abiding citizens—, because they saw it as tantamount to having a sinful life, as they collected taxes in the name of the roman governor, whom they did not want to submit to.
It suffices with Jesus beckoning him to his service: «Follow me» (Mt 9:9). A single word by the Master, and Matthew leaves his profession and, happily, invites him to his home to celebrate with a joyous dinner. It was only natural that Matthew had a group of good friends, of the same “professional guild”, to join him at his table. But, according to the Pharisees, all that kind of people were confirmed sinners publicly recognized as such.
The Pharisees could not therefore silence it and they comment with some of Jesus' disciples: «Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?» (Mt 9:10). Jesus' answer is immediate: «Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do» (Mt 9:12). The comparison is perfect: «I did not come to call the righteous but sinners» (Mt 9:13).
These words of the Gospel are topical. Jesus keeps on inviting us to follow him, each one of us according to his condition and profession. And, more often than not, to follow Jesus means to leave behind some messy passions, or some poor family relationships, or just a waste of time, to allot some moments to prayer, to the Eucharist feast or to some missionary pastoral care. In other words «no Christian ought to think of him as his own master, for he is submitted to God's service» (St. Ignatius of Antioch).
Jesus is, indeed, asking me to change my life, so I wonder: which group do I belong to, to the perfect persons or to those who sincerely accept they can dramatically improve? For I can improve, can't I?