JAN. 16. ORDINARY TIME. WK. 1. SAT. MK. 2. -13-17
Updated: Jul 24
Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
The primary lesson we need to heed in this scripture passage is Christ’s Love for all people, irrespective of their circumstances or reputation! It is a message we often find difficult to heed and put into practice?
But it is also a lesson we should be grateful for because of our own human failings! We like to “imagine” we appear ‘good’ and ‘loveable’ to those around us, but when we are alone or at prayer we are only too well aware this is far from the truth!
Why Christ would choose a tax collector as one of his initial Apostles only leaves us scratching our heads, and then we are told that he enjoyed eating, not only with tax collectors, but also with known sinners?
What is the Lesson Christ is giving us if not his desire, and willingness, to show Mercy to sinners and those whom society rejects; - a willingness that we are only too well aware we are often in need of?
But it is not only a lesson we should be grateful for; - it is more importantly a lesson which Christ wants us to emulate in our own lives; - a lesson that is far from being in accord with our own values?
And is it not only right that, if we desire and expect Love and Mercy from God, despite our abundant sins and human failings, that we should show Love and Mercy to all people, no matter their circumstances, reputation or failings?
Sadly, the reality is that for most of us we expect God to show us Mercy and forgiveness for our failings and sins, but we are reluctant to show others the same sentiments when they do not “measure up” to our own standards and desires!
But Christ, in this reading, then went well beyond showing Mercy to Matthew; - he also invited him to become one of his Apostles, a responsibility we would think would be reserved for his closest friends?
This Gospel reading really contains a powerful lesson, and invitation, for anyone who professes to be a Christian, or “follower” of Christ: We must Love even sinners and outcasts!
“It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
Gospel Acclamation Lk4:18
The Lord sent me to bring Good News to the poor
and freedom to prisoners.