One Minute Reflection – 18 January – Saturday of the First week in Ordinary Time, Year A – Readings: 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1, Psalm 21:2-7, Mark 2:13-17
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” … Mark 2:16
REFLECTION – “A first fact strikes one based on these references, Jesus does not exclude anyone from His friendship. Indeed, precisely while he is at table in the home of Matthew-Levi, in response to those, who expressed shock at the fact that He associated with people who had so little to recommend them, He made the important statement: “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous but sinners” (Mk 2: 17).
The good news of the Gospel consists precisely in this – offering God’s grace to the sinner!
Elsewhere, with the famous words of the Pharisee and the publican who went up to the Temple to pray, Jesus actually indicates an anonymous tax collector as an appreciated example of humble trust in divine mercy, while the Pharisee is boasting of his own moral perfection, the “tax collector… would not even lift up his eyes to heaven but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!'”.
And Jesus comments: “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18: 13-14).
Thus, in the figure of Matthew, the Gospels present to us a true and proper paradox – those, who seem to be the farthest from holiness, can even become a model of the acceptance of God’s mercy and offer a glimpse of its marvellous effects in their own lives.
St John Chrysostom makes an important point in this regard – he notes that only in the account of certain calls, is the work of those concerned mentioned. Peter, Andrew, James and John are called while they are fishing, while Matthew, while he is collecting tithes.
These are unimportant jobs, Chrysostom comments, “because there is nothing more despicable than the tax collector and nothing more common than fishing” (In Matth. Hom.: PL 57, 363). Jesus’ call, therefore, also reaches people of a low social class while they go about their ordinary work.” … Pope Benedict XVI – General Audience, 30 August 2006
PRAYER – Almighty, ever-living God, You offer the covenant of reconciliation to mankind through Your Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Lord God, grant Your people constant joy, in the renewed vigour of their souls. They rejoice because You have restored them to the glory of Your adopted children, through Him who saves them. Grant that by the assistance of Mary, His mother and theirs, they may look forward gladly to the certain hope of resurrection. Through Christ, the Lord, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God for all eternity, amen.