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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The tax collector in the ancient world was a much-despised character. So we can imagine that Levi (the Jewish name given to Matthew in the other gospels) was not very popular with his neighbors…especially if he demanded a few extra shekels on the side as as the extra cost of “doing business.” Imagine the local surprise not only when Jesus approached Matthew and said “Follow me,” but then at the total confusion when Levi actually got up from his customs post and walked away with Jesus, welcoming the Lord to his house and table.
Upending expectations was a common practice for Jesus. As he explains, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do…I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Where is that “sick place” in my own life that needs Jesus’ healing touch? And how might I find some measure of patience and forgiveness this weekend as I walk with a person I know (at home, at work, or down the street) who may be struggling to find strength to turn things around? How can my quiet presence and healing words make a difference?
Isn’t this what “follow me” means in the concrete this Sept. 21, 2013?
-—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, while we may be able to conceal our wounded-ness even to those closet to us, you know exactly where we struggle. We pray for your healing so we can be freed of anything that holds us at a distance to those we love. We pray for your healing so we can share in the joy and peace you so much want for us. And, Lord, heighten our sensitivity and show us the best way to be present to others wounded in body or spirit.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!