By FR JULIUS OLAITAN
July 05, 2019 (Friday of Week 13 Year B) Not the virtuous but sinners Dear friends in Christ, the call to follow Jesus is not reserved for saints. Jesus came to call everyone particularly sinners to repentance and the life of grace. A great example is Matthew, and through the ages, he has called people who are not worthy to have a share of the life of grace. In todays gospel (Matthew 9:9-13) we find an interesting story in the case of Matthew, a Tax Collector or a publican who deals with public money. By the Jewish standard of looking at Tax Collectors, Matthew was a public sinner, someone unfit to associate with other people freely. Taxes were farmed out to collectors, who pay an agreed sum to the Roman government and could keep anything raised over and above the sum, as commission. That gave room for extortion and abuses. Many tax collectors became rich at the expense of the people. For such reasons, Tax Collectors were hated. Matthew must have heard about Jesus or witnessed any of his teachings and miracles. Possibly like Zacchaeus, he had nursed the opportunity of coming close to Jesus someday and unexpectedly, while in the tax office, Jesus came and said to him, “Follow me.” The implication of following Jesus is huge: he will have to leave his comfortable life, his good income, his stable way and begin an adventure that no one knows where it leads and how it will end. On the side of Jesus, Matthew will become a useful instrument, a pen through which the activities of Jesus will someday be compiled into one of the books of the Bible. It was a meeting of mercy and misery and mercy triumphed. Matthew gave up what was material, by leaving his tax collector’s job, but he gained much more in becoming a disciple of the kingdom. An immediate proof was that, Jesus went with him to have a dinner. Like Zacchaeus, he must have been shocked to his marrows. He became a magnet through which many other Tax Collectors came to Jesus, and were at table. To the Pharisees, that was unacceptable, that Jesus would sit at table with someone whose job made him an enemy of the nation. They questioned, “Why does your teacher eat with Tax Collectors and Sinners.” The reply from Jesus was very simple, “Those who are well have no need of a physician…” He has gone to where his services as a Saviour was most needed. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice…” Thats God’s verdict on the sinner. Jesus loves you, he has come for you, he desires that you be saved. Now is the right time to accept your weaknesses and turn to the Lord for help. Follow him! Let us pray: Thank you Lord for your love for me. Give me also the grace of true repentance. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.