Friday, July 5, 2013

God never alters the robe of righteousness to fit the man. Rather He alters the man to fit the robe.

“Neither fear nor self-interest can convert the soul. They may change the appearance, perhaps even the conduct, but never the object of supreme desire... Only charity can convert the soul, freeing it from unworthy motives.” ― St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Gospel Text: (MT 9:9-13)
As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Jesus invites everyone to be his disciple and enter his kingdom regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, education, income or appearance. Jesus welcomes all people without exception, because all of us are sinners in need of redemption, and all of us are equally loved by God the Father.

Jesus challenges us today to be as welcoming and inclusive as he is. This may involve examining some of our actions and attitudes. For instance, do we harbor racist thoughts or tendencies? Do we look down on people we think are beneath us economically or socially? Do we envy or resent those we think are above us economically or socially? Do we see members of the opposite sex as equals? Do we scorn the young or marginalize the elderly? Are we intellectual snobs or athletes who mock non-jocks? Are we indifferent to the needs of persons with disabilities? Are we the pious who scorn the unbelieving or unrighteous? Do we ignore or avoid those who are different from us in some way?

If we answer “Yes” to any of these questions, it’s time for an attitude adjustment.

But, according to the Pharisees, all “those kinds” of people need to be excluded. Are we like that too?

In our gospel narrative, the Pharisees comment with some of Jesus' disciples: «Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?» (Mt 9:10). Jesus' answer is immediate: «Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do» (Mt 9:12). The comparison is perfect: «I did not come to call the righteous but sinners» (Mt 9:13).

These words of the Gospel are topical. Jesus keeps on inviting us to follow him, each one of us according to his or her condition. And, more often than not, to follow Jesus means to leave behind some messy passion or behavior.

Jesus is, indeed, asking us to change our life as he did to St Matthew, so I wonder: which group do I belong to, to the perfect persons or to those who sincerely accept they can dramatically improve?

For I can improve, can't I?

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