Anne O’Brien, Deputy CEO (Mission People and Culture), reads from the Gospel of Matthew (9: 9-13) in which hear how the Pharisees question the company Jesus keeps when he has dinner at Matthew, the tax collector’s house. Responding to this criticism Jesus says, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick’ and ‘I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners’.
In today’s Gospel, Anne says, we are presented with another dramatic conversion story. Matthew, one of the hated and despised tax collectors, was looked at and spoken to by Jesus in a special way.
Jesus’ loving gaze and presence were enough to enable Matthew to get up from his particular place of imprisonment and follow Jesus in a new way of living. This could be described as a type of resurrection experience.
A further shock was Jesus celebrating a meal with tax collectors and sinners – something that horrified the Pharisees.
Jesus brought with him a totally new way of living, one of mercy, compassion, and love. No-one is barred from his community. He is totally inclusive of everyone.
What about us?
Can we take the risk of embracing this new life that Jesus offers?
Are we inclusive?
We are invited to see ourselves as loved sinners, just as Matthew was.
If we allow ourselves to accept that Jesus looks at us the way he looked at Matthew, we too can take up the challenge to follow him.
In closing, Anne invites us to pray:
Loving God our Father, thank you for your call to each one of us to be your disciples. Increase our trust in you and help us to open our hearts to accepting others, to be inclusive to all, as Jesus did. Amen.