Sunday, September 20, 2015

Go and Learn

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Ephesians 4:7

“Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”  Matthew 9:13

Caravaggio, The Call of St. Matthew
The light basking on the hand of Jesus reminds some of the hand of God on the Sistine Chapel.  Jesus reaches out to call St. Matthew away from his family, his work, his friends, his co-workers and his possessions.  Matthew cannot even make eye contact with Jesus at this critical moment he is lost in introspection.  Will he stay or will he go?

Matthew can see clearly…now.  Maybe not always.  However, the change is what Jesus emphasizes with the disciples.  Whether it is Peter leaving behind his boats or Matthew leaving the tax rolls, they and all the other disciples did indeed “follow” Jesus. 

The learned Pharisees and scribes do not fully grasp the person of Jesus.  Their words convey that limit when they ask, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  They see Jesus ONLY as a teacher, not as the Son of Man.  They use traditional Mosaic Law to evaluate Jesus and his actions.   Eating with sinners and tax collectors would require a ritual cleansing at temple. 

Just as people change, the law is changing, too.  The Hebrew Bible stressed sacrifice.  Jesus stresses love and mercy.

With whom have you had dinner lately?  Anyone scandalous?  Any hookers?  Anyone working at the Department of the Treasury?  Maybe one of those Catholic priests or radical feminist nuns? 

Break out of your routine and invite an unusual guest to dinner.  

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