As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
If Jesus had a bit more of a sarcastic streak, his response to being asked why he ate with sinners may have been more along the lines of “because otherwise I would always eat alone.” Fortunately, he saw this as a teachable moment and reminds all of us that he came for all people, not just a select few. The Pharisees would have preferred that Jesus’ inner circle consisted of a more “elite” group, ideally comprised mainly of themselves.
But Jesus’ response makes it clear that, just like the tax collectors and sinners he dined with, we are invited into a relationship with him right now, as we are. We don’t need to wait until we are more holy, or better at prayer, or in a more stable place in our lives; Jesus is ready to meet us exactly where we are. Like Matthew, we have the opportunity to accept the invitation today, no matter what we are doing, and begin a friendship with Christ, allowing that relationship to open us to an even greater discipleship.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
Lord, give me the grace to labor with you
without seeking myself-
to live the Kingdom
In its full reality.
—John Futrell, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!