Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword

Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio

The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. Hebrews 4:12-13

While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus heard this and said to them, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." Mark 2:15-17

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone?
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

All week long, we have had example after example of Jesus’ healing touch.  With the call of Matthew/Levi and the following dinner at this new follower’s house, the narrative now starts to turn and bring into the account of the inevitable conflicts with the Pharisees that will add rising tension throughout Ordinary Time until it ends in the Passion and then resurrects on Easter morning.

The passage from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews really sets up the dichotomy.  Christ’s word is living and effective in calling sinners like the hated tax collector who is willing to change and get on the path to follow Jesus. Levi cuts his ties to his recent past evil practices.  However, no creatures duplicity is able to hide from the perceptive eye of the Lord.  Not even nor especially that of the Pharisees and their dangling tassels that hassle the people.

Jesus cuts down the cords to those tassel-wearing Pharisees with a saying that is sharper than any two-edged light saber.  The healthy do not need a physician.  This silenced his critics who on the surface objected to Jesus eating with Rome’s dreaded tax collectors and Israel’s unworthy sinners.  But is cut deeper still.  Because the scribes and Pharisees were so outright self-righteous, Jesus could see that they were not capable of responding to Jesus’ call to repentance and faith in the gospel like Matthew/Levi or Peter or the many people of genuine faith whom Jesus touched in the readings throughout this week.

How will you provide Jesus’ touch on this cold, dark and wet winter day? Even though you may not go out in volunteerism, you could call someone who is shut-in by circumstances.  You could clean out those closets and dressers and donate items to A Wider Circle or a local thrift shop.  If that is too much, then just wear some black in the spirit of the blind, the lame, the imprisoned and the less fortunate. Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me?!

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