As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, 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, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s gospel, we see Jesus at the table sharing a meal with many sinners and tax collectors. The Pharisees see this and are perplexed: why does Jesus associate himself with the lowest in society? Jesus responds: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Today’s gospel is very timely for us in the “Year of Mercy.” Pope Francis’ official proclamation, “The Face of Mercy,” declares that “mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel.” In this Year of Mercy we are challenged to better understand how God has been merciful to us and how we can be merciful to others in turn.
As Jesus shows us, those who are filled with self-righteousness cannot be merciful; rather mercy begins when we empty ourselves of judgment and encounter suffering both in ourselves and in the world. God’s redemptive mercy shows us that where there is suffering, there is also healing.
Who in our family, community, and world needs mercy? In what ways are we in need of God’s mercy? How can I be merciful to someone today?
—Kathleen Cullen Ritter serves as Director of Campus Ministry at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, WI. She attended Marquette University and served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Bend, OR.
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
― St. Teresa of Ávila