Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13 – St. Matthew, Apostle
Matthew was a tax collector. He was reviled by the Jews because of his work with the Romans. He was considered unclean, lumped together with the sinners, the harlots, and the Gentiles. From the standpoint of many of his contemporaries, there was no mercy for the tax collector. But something happened to Matthew’s heart when he heard the words of Jesus. Those words took root and began to grow and flower as Matthew sat around the table with Jesus. Jesus’ words changed the tax collector. Today we know Matthew to be an evangelist, a herald of the Good News.
And what is that Good News?
That there is mercy. Sinners are sick and need the medicine of mercy. The Good News is that God comes to us just as we are with just the medicine that we need; and He comes to where we are. In today’s gospel passage, where do we find Jesus? Around the table with tax collectors and sinners. He hangs out with the rabble, with the no-name ne’er-do-wells. With us. And when those who do do well criticize Jesus, they themselves are reprimanded.
The Good News is that we are loved. God is with us and God is for us. It follows, then, that God is also with and for my neighbor, and He invites me to be a herald of the Good News of Mercy to my neighbor. In my own life, I often find a breakdown between the receiving and the giving of mercy. I do not always find it easy to be merciful. As a matter of fact, mercy is hard. But there are a couple of practical actions that Jesus shows us in today’s gospel passage that can help us to give mercy to others: conversation and hospitality.
Who are the people that I find it difficult to be merciful to? Is there something that I can do – either by initiating a conversation or extending an invitation to coffee or a meal – that would be a practical way of extending mercy to that person or persons?
Jesus, thank you so much for the incredible mercy You have shown me. Please help me to extend Your mercy to all those I come in contact with. Help me to be a herald of mercy in my small corner of the world.
Copyright 2017 Jeff Young
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