Today’s readings can be found here.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
“Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.” This is the same person who wrote the Gospel we are reading.
More details on what happened at that moment would have been nice. But I believe that the discretion with which this calling is told reminds us that there are things that cannot be explained any further. Some things can only be ascertained. When someone asks you why you love who you love, you can surely answer in many ways. But in the end, you must accept that there is something mysterious at the very core of your love that no reasoning or word can truly grasp.
We must learn to respect this intimacy and resist the urge to scrutinize everything.
The Gospel then goes on to tell us about the scandal Jesus causes when sitting at the table with sinners. How can the righteous share with the unclean as equals?
The separation of the pure from the impure is the most fundamental, widespread religious principle in the world. But Jesus brings in a radical novelty: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
God’s love is not another predictable religious principle. On the contrary, it unexpectedly accomplishes what most would carefully avoid: He loves what is not lovable and, for this very reason, he saves it.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio’, Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.