Read Genesis 22:1-4.19; 24:1-8,62-67, Psalm 106 and Matthew 9:9-13
“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 heart.
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 on one another.
While people were busy pointing fingers, Jesus was busy winning a soul to himself. While others were calling names, Matthew was busy examining his conscience. In the end, this same Matthew became one of the greatest Evangelists of all time.
It is okay to criticize others for their wrong deeds but it is more profitable to examine one’s own heart instead because all that name-calling and insults will be of no use if in the end, you are guilty of a much greater evil. Remember the two men who went to the Temple to pray? One prayed only to himself while the other who went home justified because he acknowledged his sinfulness.
As St. Paul teaches us: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
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?
From my little experience, I have come to realize that those who condemn others a lot end up been worse than those they condemn when given the chance. Stop pointing fingers, start asking yourself: “If that was me, would I have done better?” Stop complaining about our leaders and start asking: “How much do I know about leadership? How am I training myself for such leadership positions? Am I free from the sickness for which I am insulting my leaders?”
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.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of week 13 in Ordinary Time Bible Study: Genesis 22:1-4.19; 24:1-8,62-67, Psalm 106 and Matthew 9:9-13).