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 dreamed 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 our skin colour but by our hearts’ content.
To everyone else, Matthew was the worst sinner in town. By merely accepting to collect tax on behalf of the Romans, Matthew was a traitor to a people whose allegiance was to God and not the Roman colonialists. However, beyond collecting taxes, it was the standard practice for the tax collectors to charge more than what was appropriate, thereby eating from both sides (enriching themselves).
Jesus’s presence in Matthew’s house aroused anger and condemnation from those who hated Matthew and those whom he may have defrauded. In our day, the picture/video clip of Jesus eating and laughing with Matthew and his fellow tax collectors would go viral on social media applications. It will arouse a media trial with many on either side of the divide.
While people were busy pointing fingers, Jesus was busy winning a soul for heaven. While others were calling names, Matthew was busy examining his conscience. Ultimately, this same Matthew became one of the greatest Evangelists ever.
It is okay to criticise others for their wrong deeds, but it is more profitable to examine one’s heart. 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 was 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? 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 to learn from other people’s mistakes, or do I consider it more important to publicise these mistakes?
Those who condemn others often end up being 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 ask: “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: Almighty ever-living God, 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. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Bible Study: Genesis 23:1-4,19,24:1-8,62-67, Ps. 106:1-5, Matthew 9:9-13).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu