Day 14 - Call

A man sits at a bar

Day 14 - listen here

 

Matthew 9: 9-13

And passing by from there, Jesus saw a man sitting at the tax desk, called Matthew. And he says to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. 

And it happened as he was lying down to eat in his house, and look! Many tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Jesus and with his disciples. And when they saw it, the Pharisees said to his disciples, ‘Why is it with tax collectors and sinners that your master eats?’ He heard it and said, ‘It is not those who are well who have need of a doctor, but those who are in a bad way. Go and find out what “I want mercy and not sacrifice” means. For I didn’t come to call the righteous – no, [I came to call] sinners.’

Reflection

Matthew fleeced his countrymen to fill the coffers of imperial Rome. He was the opposite of Robin Hood – he stole from the poor, to give to the rich. He kept the manmade laws of the oppressors meticulously, but broke God’s requirement to care for the widow and the orphan.

Did he recall their looks? They eyes of a little girl, of an old man, whom he had left poor and defenceless? He must have recalled the words of contempt voiced deliberately within his hearing. “Tax collector! Sinner! Rat! Scab!” And a part of him probably felt that their disdain was entirely deserved.

Jesus looked at him in a different way. He saw the disgraces of Matthew’s past, yes, but Jesus also saw the hope in his future. He said two words: “follow me.” And Matthew followed. The tax collector became an apostle, the sinner a saint and a martyr.

Did Jesus see that future at the moment he called him? God’s knowledge is a mystery unfathomable to philosophers and theologians. Yet it meets us in Christ diffracted through human eyes full of compassion.

17th century Dutch painting of Jesus approaching Matthew

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus,

How are you looking at me? Others may salute me as socially law-abiding, or shun me as morally compromised. You know that I am a sinner, and yet you look upon me with mercy. And you “call not the righteous but sinners.” Your words give me confidence. You see not only what I have been but who I can be. And a part of me breaks open to you. Whatever others might say, and even if it is costly, I want to follow you.

 

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