Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. -Matthew 9:12-13
Jesus tells me through Matthew today that my job is to learn. This can be challenging for an old Irishman like me, but it is a task that I think and feel I might need to do. The important word in the previous sentence is “do”.
I do not believe for one second that learning is a passive event. If I don’t go away from a meeting or for that matter any encounter that God gives me today, doing, living, differently, I didn’t learn. Lifelong learning is a popular phrase for this understanding today. For me, meeting a friend at the local coffee shop seems to be our new classroom. At the coffee shop, we share our take on an issue that might be the reason we decided to get together or maybe the issue is something that just happened to us on our way, and we are trying to figure out what to do.
It’s all kind of like another classroom I’ve attended for most of my life, a good liturgy. For me a good liturgy as a Roman Catholic is The Mass. The way or ritual I learned at The Mass is to greet each other lovingly, make mention of any past mistakes or unresolved issues, promising to do better with help, listening to each other, seeing if there are others with similar experiences that can help in our discernment on how we hope to proceed today, saying thanks recognizing that we are not alone, but part of a life together, but also part of a much grander universe that we can possibly fully know, but nevertheless like a stone thrown in the river, affect not only us, but all of life. Finally, we do this all the while sharing coffee and if we are lucky, some delicious bread.
God, help me learn from you as Matthew reminds me to do in today’s scripture selection. Help me learn today what is the difference between justice and mercy in my life, and do mercy, recognizing that while I strive for justice, I often miss the mark, but we can do much better.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.