Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector to be His Apostle and then clashes with the scribes of the Pharisees at dinner at Matthew’s house. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Counsel from the Holy Spirit so he can be guided in the battle against sin and receive Christ’s mercy and by building the Virtue of Magnificence so he can more fully battle against his sins and serve Jesus Christ.
1st Week in Ordinary Time – Saturday – Mk 2:13-17
After returning to Capernaum from a preaching mission in Galilee, Jesus’ reputation continues to grow, and multitudes of people are drawn to Him. Going out from the town of Capernaum to a spot along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus teaches a large crowd. As the day draws to a close, Jesus sees and calls Levi (also called Matthew), a tax collector, to be His disciple.
Jewish tax collectors were despised by Jews as unredeemable sinners because they robbed people by over-collecting taxes, they had regular contact with the “unclean” Gentiles, and they collaborated with the enemy of Israel, the occupying Romans. Despite the profound stigma, as Jesus passes by Matthew the tax collector, Jesus calls him to “Follow me.” Hearing, Matthew immediately gets up, leaves everything (a secure source of income) and follows Jesus. Later, Jesus dines with Matthew (likely at either Matthew or Peter’s home) with many tax collectors and other sinners. Table fellowship was a sign of personal acceptance and friendship, and Jesus’ decision to dine with a tax collector violated the Pharisees’ (meaning, separated ones) strict refusal to mix with “sinners”, especially in table fellowship.
The scribes of the Pharisees, perhaps afraid to challenge Jesus directly, complain to His disciples and seek to denigrate Jesus by accusing Him of eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” As always, Jesus is aware of the schemes of men, responds by mysteriously revealing His merciful ability as a “Physician” to heal the “sick”; this is a powerful assertion of His Divine Authority to forgive sins, for He comes “not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Marvel at how Jesus, the Divine King and the greatest Leader of men, calls Matthew: with Divine Knowledge, Jesus recognizes, despite being a hardened tax-collector, Matthew has a deep inner spiritual hunger and will respond to His call; superior in Human Knowledge, Jesus Prudently assesses Matthew’s brilliant record-keeping skills that Matthew will use to write the Gospel of Matthew, one of the most influential documents in history; with powerful Authority and stunning Charisma, Jesus is so compelling that Matthew immediately leaves his lucrative livelihood and follows Him, ultimately to martyrdom.
Be guided by the Spirit to battle sin and receive Mercy
Realize: Like the Pharisees failed to recognize their sinfulness and rejected Jesus, today, many men ignore the gracious mercy Jesus offers, thinking they are not sinful (“I’m a pretty good person”), are good enough (“I’m not so bad”), or that they are better than others (“I’m not as bad as…”); in contrast, every Catholic man should strive to find his flaws to receive Christ’s mercy and advance towards sainthood.
Believe: Reflect upon Christ’s Merciful Outreach to Sinners (CCC 545, 588-589, 1503).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Counsel so I can be guided by You to recognize my sins, especially those which most offend my Lord and Savior, repent with great contrition and seek the mercy of Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, so that I might advance towards sainthood.
Be magnificent by battling sin and serving Christ
Realize: Matthew, well aware of his sins, gratefully responds to Jesus’ call, and goes on to human greatness and eternal life in Jesus.
Believe: Renew Jesus’ promise to Forgive Sinners through His Catholic Church (CCC 976-987, 1443, 1484, 1846).
Pray: Jesus Christ, Divine King, help me build the Virtue of Magnificence (a part of Fortitude) so I can be freed from enslavement to sin and be inspired to the magnificent work of striving for sainthood and helping build the Your Divine Kingdom through the Your Holy Catholic Church.