FRIEND OF SINNERS
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (5:27-32) in which says Jesus calls Levi, the tax collector, to be one of his close associates.
Fr Paul says, we need to understand that tax collectors were despised and shunned on religious grounds by people like the Pharisees and others. The tax collectors worked for the unclean Romans. The Pharisees were also strict observers of the Law, but Jesus was having a party with the dirty tax collectors and other sinners, whose company he seemed to enjoy and be comfortable in.
Jesus responds with two wonderful contrasts he often used – ‘I am not here for the healthy but the sick’ and ‘I am not here for the virtuous but for sinners’. In other words, it is not the detail of the Law that matters but the purpose of the Law.
The purpose of the Law is to bring people to God.
So, Fr Paul says, at the beginning of Lent, there is no point denying that we are sinners. As we reflect today and over the remaining weekend, we might ask ourselves, ‘Do I think I am better than others, like the Pharisees do? Am I comfortable sitting with Jesus, the tax collectors, and the sinners?