Daily Reflection – 7/5/19
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “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.”( Matthew 9: 9-13)
This is a very short story in the Gospel of Matthew. But it is packed with teaching for all of us.
When Jesus called Matthew, Matthew stood up and left his livelihood to follow the Lord. The call of Jesus led to Matthew’s conversion. No longer did Matthew stand as a traitor and a cheat Jesus didn’t mind getting himself “dirty” with the outsiders. While he honored and kept the Jewish Law, he did not mind making himself unacceptable in the eyes of the Pharisees for the good of those he served. As much as the Pharisees defined themselves as exclusive, Jesus became inclusive. He reached out to the undesirable and the untouchable. He wanted to bring them into the Kingdom.
We learn that we are all acceptable to Jesus, just as we are. He doesn’t lay down any preconditions, we don’t need to be ‘better people’ or more holy. You are OK just as you are, and so am I. And God loves us how we are, right now, in this moment. That is so powerful! Regardless of your self-image, regardless of what another says, you know that you are loved by God. That is a gift that needs remembering every day.
Jesus doesn’t turn away the sinners in search for a saint. He calls us sinners to follow him because he can heal us. We are imperfect. We are sinners. We are in need of Jesus’ mercy. But the thing is, Jesus knows that and doesn’t care. He will give us his love and forgiveness. He will call us in his name. And the most important thing that we should take out of the Gospel today is that when Jesus called Matthew to follow him, Matthew did. He didn’t dilly-dally, he didn’t pause to consider if he wanted to leave his profitable profession; he just stood up and followed Christ. When Jesus calls you to follow him, even though we are sinners, even though we have a lot of baggage we would have to leave behind, would you drop everything and follow him?
When Jesus called Matthew, he defined his ministry. Jesus reached out to those whom society disdained. In doing so, he did not compromise his values for the Kingdom. He exercised them. After all, God’s reign is for all, not the elite or the pious or the moral.
Jesus challenges us to do the same. To reach out. To show respect. To gather into the Kingdom.
While we might not be called to leave our homes or occupations to follow Jesus, his call demands personal change. How has Jesus called you? How has he changed you?
Prayer of The Day
You are true goodness and life, Lord. Closeness to you brings peace and joy. You deserve all of my trust and my love. Thank you for the gift of life, my family and above all of my faith.
Jesus is the Healer and Physician Who will transform our self-centered minds but most especially our hearts so that we may have a character that is based on His compassion and His love rather than one that seeks compliance to the law and standards set only by man’s. He will give us the grace and spirit to discern the goodness and the very purpose of everyone whom He should decide to bring into His church.
Let us always be reminded of the words of Jesus: “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.”