Thursday, June 30, 2016

A SINNER'S CALL


Homily for July 1st 2016: Matthew 9: 9-13..       

          Jesus speaks just two words to Matthew: “Follow me.” Without hesitation, Matthew gets up and follows Jesus. Other disciples of Jesus have already done the same, when, at Jesus’ command, they abandoned the tools of their trade as fishermen, their boats and nets, to follow Jesus. What motivated this immediate obedience? I think that if we could have questioned any of them, Matthew included, they would have replied: “There was something about this man, Jesus, which made it impossible to say no.” 

          Unlike the fishermen whom Jesus called to follow him, men whom we would call blue collar workers, Matthew was a member of a despised and hated minority: the tax collectors -- not civil service workers or government officials, like those who collect taxes today, but ripoff artists. They entered into an arrangement with the hated Roman government of occupation to supply a steady stream of revenue. How they got the money, and how much remained in their own pockets, was of little concern to the officials, as long as the money kept coming.

          Matthew was accustomed to being rejected by his fellow citizens. Delighted by Jesus’ call, Matthew invites the Lord to dinner in his house. “Why does the Teacher eat and drink with tax collectors and those who disregard the law?” Jesus’ critics ask indignantly. Jesus overhears the question and answers it himself. “People who are in good health do not need a doctor,” Jesus responds, “sick people do. . . . I have come not to call not the self-righteous but sinners.”

What is the message for us? To receive Jesus’ call and his loving care, we need to recognize and confess our need. And the first thing every one of us needs from Jesus is forgiveness.