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».
God loves us and in His mercy He accompanies us. We become aware that we are all weak and it is difficult to be always faithful to the divine promise. Like Abraham, we can also face up to just trials and in our faithfulness we will discover how much God helps us to live our lives fully.
It is in this fidelity that Matthew is called to follow the Lord and on his journey with Jesus, he will discover God's mercy, particularly in the way Jesus will welcome his friends with joy. Very often, we are those Pharisees who judge others as sinners and we shut ourselves in, without being able to taste the divine mercy.
Like Matthew, each of us is invited to respond to this divine call. A call to be with the Lord, a call to become his friends, a call to become the Christ for the beloved of the Father. Matthew responded positively to this call. How do we want to respond to this divine call?
Action of the day: Courage, follow the Lord.
+ 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?