Friday, the 13th Week of Ordinary Time, July 1, 2022
Am 8:4-6, 9-12; Ps 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131; Mt 9:9-13
If it were so easy to “follow me” as the Lord says, our world would be so much better. I like the apostle Matthew because he came from a very tough background. He was despised by those around him, and many thought he was a thief and sinner. Well, he was a tax collector, which was probably the most hated profession of the times. So, unless, of course, you were the recipient of his good fortunes, you would think he was the lowest of the low. Most people hated tax collectors because they were always asking for more. So why does Jesus have a meal with them? We have to go back and look at His response to the Pharisees who were watching Him and snickering behind His back.
Jesus says very clearly, “Those who are well, do not need a physician, but the sick do.” It is all about the person’s soul. If someone is not following Jesus’s way, then he or she, perhaps, is in deep trouble. Their soul is in jeopardy. Who else but Jesus, the Son of God, to sit with them and help them recover. Jesus, of course, wants everyone to be with Him in heaven. However, if they are not well, meaning they are in a state of sin, they are in peril of making it to heaven. Thankfully, Jesus also gave us the sacrament of reconciliation to help us. Just as Jesus forgave Matthew’s sins, and those around the table, so does every priest who acts in the persona of Jesus when we go confess our sins and are forgiven (reconciled).
I was reading some documents from our early church doctors and writers recently. Very early on, they talk about the need to be free from sin and to be pure when receiving the Eucharist. In fact, they were adamant that you must be reconciled because if you receive the Thanksgiving (the Eucharist) in a state of sin, your own sacrifice would be profaned. Much worse than the sin itself! Nevertheless, Jesus came for us, the sick, to be a soul healer, so there is hope we can get to heaven. It is through all the sacraments we receive, especially Reconciliation, where we can begin to learn the meaning of the words Jesus spoke: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Then, follow Him, and our world will be so much better.