“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:12-13)
The famous Martin Luther’s dream was that one day his children would not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. The Good News for us today is that God does not judge us by the colour of our skin but by the content of our hearts.
To everyone else, Matthew was the worst sinner in town. By merely accepting to collect tax on behalf of the Romans, Matthew was being a traitor to a people whose allegiance was to God and not the Roman colonialists. However, beyond collecting taxes, it was the common practice those days for the tax collectors to charge more than what was appropriate thereby eating from both sides and enriching themselves.
The very presence of Jesus in the house of Matthew was enough to arouse anger and condemnation from those who hated Matthew as well as those who have been defrauded by him. This encounter cast a shadow on Jesus’ moral credibility. In our day, the picture/video clip of Jesus eating and laughing with Matthew and his fellow tax collectors would go viral on all social media applications and arouse a media trial with many throwing insults at one another.
In his defence, Jesus said: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Am I the kind of righteous person Jesus was referring to? Am I full of myself? Do I judge and condemn others knowing full well my own hypocrisy? Do I see myself as complete, perfect, holy, and immune from mistakes? How often do I take out time to examine my conscience? Am I willing am I to learn from other people’s mistakes or do I consider it more important to publicise these mistakes? Stop pointing fingers, start asking yourself: “If that were me, would I have done better?”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you took a bold and risky step in visiting Matthew and his colleagues, teach me to welcome sinners, and use me to bring them closer to you. Amen.
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu