Prayerfully place yourself in the following passage from the Gospel. Imagine yourself as the Apostle Matthew being called by Jesus to leave everything and follow him. Imagine yourself as one of the Pharisees being told by Jesus that showing mercy toward sinners is greater than temple sacrifices.
By Father Paul Eberle
Imagine yourself as one of those sinners around the table with Jesus at Matthew’s house. “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “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 9:9-13)
In this passage Jesus defends the tax collectors and sinners sitting around him at table. Too often we envision God as scolding us, perhaps like our parents or teachers may have when we did something we should not have done. In the Call of Matthew, Jesus does not scold the sinners, but comes close to them and invites them into a new way that leads to true life and authentic happiness. What is it like to imagine Jesus defending you before the judgmental Pharisees, and inviting you to follow him? You and I, and all sinners alike, are the reason that Jesus came into the world. Jesus said, “For I have come not to call the righteous but sinners.” Is there anything you would like to say to the Lord right now? Speak to him simply from your heart, as a friend would speak to a friend. Listen for the Lord’s response. Hear him say within your soul, as he said to Matthew, “Follow me.” What is your response?