The Pharisees, having some deep knowledge of the Law and the Prophets during the first century Palestine, felt that they were above others. They came to a point that they would not want to be in the company of the public sinners of their time, like the tax collectors and prostitutes, for they believe that these people will make them unclean and unworthy to worship in the Temple.
In the Scriptures, Jesus’ mission to bring back the people to God, found Him among people of all kinds. By His example, Jesus taught the people to love their neighbors for whatever background they might have. Jesus called the tax collector, Matthew, to be his disciple and enjoyed table fellowship with the other tax collectors who were probably Matthew’s friends! When Jesus said that He desires mercy not sacrifice, He showed that love and mercy transcend unworthiness and sinfulness.
We are challenged by the example of Jesus to be charitable and concerned for our neighbor, to be open to receive other people whoever they are and respect wherever they come from. We become true to our faith, love for God and going to church when we manifest it in our love for our neighbors.
We could find this lived today in the person of Pope Francis who has always shown us how to follow Jesus’ footsteps. He reaches out to the deprived, the poor, and the marginalized people all around the world. He even met other non-Christian groups and made a dialogue with them for the sake of peace and harmony among people. He exemplifies the joy of faith and love, the kind of Joy that flows out from his being. May we, like our good pope, be able to follow Jesus who loves mercifully and unconditionally.
By: Sem. Lester John D. Cabais
As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”