'As Jesus was walking he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the custom house, and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him.
While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When he heard this he replied, 'It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the word: what I want is mercy not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous but sinner.' (Matthew 9:9-13)
Reflection In this reflection I invite you to enter an imaginary dialogue that may have taken place between Jesus and Matthew. Jesus is walking by and spots Matthew sitting by the custom house. He is sitting alone gleefully counting his money or preparing tax invoices to send to the people. The last thing on his mind is a call to a new way of life. Jesus walks by and catches a glimpse of him and notices that despite the plentiful bags of coins all around, a deep sadness is etched into Matthew's face. He steps forward, calls Matthew by name, and invites him to follow him. Matthew hears compassion, gentleness, and mystery in Jesus' voice and without hesitation, got up and followed Jesus. Table fellowship with all is a hallmark of Jesus' ministry and tonight Matthew is guest of honour. One previously despised and rejected is called to new life, the old ways of shekel (penny) pinching are laid aside and a gift of total self-offering is made to the Master and his kingdom. A journey of acceptance, transformation and new mission has begun. Narrow minded pharisaic attitudes challenge the compassion of Jesus; however, he is not to be detracted from his mission of inviting all to fullness of life and challenges mean-spiritedness to holiness. We are reminded that we are all in need of God's healing, forgiveness, and mercy. Gifts freely offered to be shared by all so that God's kingdom can come amongst us today. Let us rejoice and give thanks for these free gifts offered to us in the beloved. We pray in gratitude for one whose life was transformed from tax collector to gospel writer. Amen.