COMING FOR SINNERS

Saturday, 1st Week in Ordinary Time             

            “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

            Jesus, in today’s gospel, calls Matthew to be his disciple. The gospel does not say it, but we can be sure that there are people (especially the ‘righteous’) raising their eyebrows upon witnessing this. Being a tax collector, Matthew is despised and hated by his neighbors for being in collusion with the Romans, their country’s conquerors and for amassing fortunes at the expense of their country’s misfortunes. So, in the eyes of a good Jew, Matthew has already made a mess out of his life by betraying both his country and his religion.

            Jesus knows this, and he is aware of Matthew’s bad reputation. But, in spite of this, Jesus calls Matthew to be his disciple. He is willing to give Matthew a second chance by inviting him to follow him. God’s ways are, indeed, different from the ways of the world. God’s standards are different from human standards. The lesson of today’s gospel is very simple – it is implicit in the explanation of his conduct Jesus gave the Pharisees: “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

            Matthew senses that something significant is happening: here is a supreme chance to leave his old life and to start again. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redeem the past and to create a new future. Matthew seizes the moment and follows Jesus.

            In a sense we are all second-chance people in the company of Matthew. We all have our faults and failures. We all have wasted many opportunities. Be it the opportunity to learn much, or to use our talents for the common good, or to nourish and deepen a relationship, or to do and to give all the best to our loved ones. Whatever it might have been, the Lord gave us a second chance. He saw us for what we were in terms of our past foolishness. But he also saw what we could become in terms of our future possibilities.

            Perhaps the Lord is inviting us to get out of our comfort zones to discover new friends and to enter into new relationships… to take on another challenge and to serve our brothers and sisters… to develop our talents, gifts, abilities, capabilities, and skill, and use them for the betterment of our community. Indeed, the Lord stretches our imagination to look beyond our small worlds and see new visions and new missions.

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