“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up. – Pope Francis
Gospel Text: (LK 5:27-32)
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
The older we get, the more often we find ourselves visiting the doctor. And the older we grow, the more types of doctors we visit, for ailments of different parts of our bodies. But the average Joe, when he begins to sense a serious sickness, weighs in his mind two counter-balancing dislikes. He weighs the potential for the sickness becoming worse against the hassle of scheduling a trip to the doctor’s office, with all that entails both beforehand and afterwards.
Consider all that as an analogy to sin. In today’s Gospel Jesus says that “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.” In the three years of Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus often condemns the self-righteous, who don’t believe they need a doctor: these are they who say regarding their spiritual lives, “I’m just fine!”
Jesus also shows, in His words and deeds, the need for a good shepherd to reach out to the lamb who is lame, lost or sick. Maybe the lamb even avoids the shepherd and pulls away when it sees the shepherd coming towards him: these are they who say, “Please don’t bother about little old me!”
The irony of today’s Gospel is that the self-righteous likely need Jesus more than those they accuse of sinfulness. We are all of us—sinful men, women and children—in need of a Savior.