Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
Today we reflect not just on the call of Matthew to join Jesus, but on the call Jesus makes to each of us. Matthew, a tax collector in his day, would have most certainly been viewed as a sinner among other Jews. Collecting taxes on behalf of the oppressive Roman government, Matthew no doubt violated the Sabbath and interacted with pagans and other outcasts in his work. Jesus knew all of this, yet, without hesitation, chose Matthew, simply saying, "Follow me."
When the Pharisees saw this, they attacked Jesus, questioning, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But this is the very reason for Jesus’ presence on earth. (And once again the Pharisees miss the point!) Our hearts are known to Jesus-our sins, our failings, our shortcomings. Still, he calls us: "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do." Don’t think that this very specific comparison is made without meaning. As a doctor heals the sick, Jesus comes to heal us and all the wounds of our sins.
The lesson here is not just in Jesus’ mercy for sinners, but in His call to each of us, "I desire mercy." Jesus’ call was one of acceptance of all those on the fringes, all those who had been excluded. We must ask ourselves, then; who have we judged unworthy of our own forgiveness? Who have we shut out of our own lives by passing judgment on others? To be able to love as Jesus loved, this is what we must be prepared for in following Jesus. May we all have Matthew’s courage to answer the call.