A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus passed by, 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."
REFLECTION: "Follow me."
Oh, sweet memories of growing up!! I remember when the teacher would look for someone to call on, many of us looked down avoiding eye contact. And then you heard your name.!! Why me? Does the teacher not know that I know nothing of the subject matter? Why call me only to embarrass me? And then the teacher stood right next to your desk and then.....
Imagine Matthew sitting at his desk doing his work and then Jesus is right there. Matthew has heard of this man named Jesus who performs miracles, who might be the Messiah, who is very controversial, and a lover of the poor and the outcasts, treating them with kindness. And now He is standing next to his desk!!
Matthew was thinking why was he called, does Jesus not know who I am and what I do and that I am despised by my neighbors? The Pharisees had the same questions. But Jesus has given Matthew the graces to be at peace and to follow Him and leave his sins behind. Indeed, he does by having a dinner at his place, welcoming Jesus into his life. In spite of all that Matthew has done, Jesus chose him out of love. Jesus forgives us and we can become loving, kind and generous.
Jesus knows us and our sins and what we have done. He seeks us out anyway, condemning the sin but never the sinner. And we can do the same to others--those whom we despise, those who rub us the wrong way, those who have hurt us, and those who disrupt our lives.
Praying that we and our priests distinguish the sin from the sinner and that we show mercy and kindness to all, especially those in need of spiritual care.