Gospel Reflection- Saturday after Ash Wednesday (5 March 2022) – Why Jesus ate with sinners
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (5: 27 -32) in which Jesus says he came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Fr Paul says as we hear in this Gospel Jesus calls the tax collector, Levi, to be one of his close associates. As if having a tax collector, who is despised and shunned on religious grounds and who works for the Romans, is not bad enough Jesus then proceeds to have a party with other tax collectors and sinners, whose company he seems to enjoy.
For the Pharisees and their scribes, who carefully followed every detail and observed all of God’s laws, this was simply too much. So, either Jesus has lost all claim to be God’s representative or the Pharisees have their priorities wrong.
In the Gospel, Fr Paul explains, we hear Jesus responding to them with two forceful contrasts, not healthy but sick, not virtuous but sinners. In other words, it is not the details of the law that matter but the purpose of the law, to bring men and women to God, which is what Christ is trying to do.
As Lent begins there is no denying that we are sinners. It is a time of reconciliation, but it is also a time of hope because Jesus positively welcomes us into his company.