July 2, 2021
Gen 23:1-4,19; 24:1-8,62-67,
Ps 106:1-5 ,
INCLUSIVE AND COMPASSIONATE LIKE JESUS
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded that the Lord remembers all of us and loves each and every one of us without exception, from saints to sinners, and all whether they are rich or poor, powerful or weak, be it whether they belong to that race or having any particular backgrounds. He loves each and every one of us equally, and all of us have a share in His love and grace, provided that we allow Him to touch our lives and love us.
In our first reading today, we have heard of the story of the passing of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, our father in faith. Sarah passed away in her old age and was buried in peace by Abraham who had been blessed with a son, Isaac. God gave Rebekah to be Isaac’s own wife, to be the one to console Isaac after the loss of his own mother Sarah.
Through this, we can see how God have always put each and every one of us foremost in His mind and His care. He sought to console us and help us, whenever He could. He is always concerned about us and wants nothing else but our happiness. Yet, it is often we ourselves who refuses Him and distances ourselves from Him. This is what keeps us away from Him and prevents us from being fully reconciled to Him.
The Bible has many stories of people who have been given second chances and they became great people and saints in the process. For example, Saint Paul who was a persecutor but turned to a great missionary and preacher, Thomas who was a doubter was changed into a believer and Peter who denied Jesus but became the first head of the Church.
Today’s gospel is another story of second chance which is given to a person by the name of Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector. In the eyes of many, Matthew was not a good man. Nobody wanted to be seen in his company except his own fellow tax collectors and sinners.
One of the characteristics of Jesus was that he was inclusive and compassionate. He included everyone in his inner circle and showed extra compassion to all. The call of Matthew, who belonged to a class rejected by the religious elite, proves that Jesus is for all and shows compassion to all. This aspect of Jesus was scandalous to the scribes and Pharisees who thought that they knew God’s will and ways. Their illusion of exclusive sanctity was further shattered when they saw who was at the table dining with Jesus. The Lord’s mission was unequivocal: He, the divine physician, came to heal and save not the righteous, but those who were sick.
Jesus’ response is very important for us to hear. By stating that He came not for those who were well and righteous but for those who were sick and sinners, it tells us two important things. First, it tells us that we are all spiritually sick and sinful. Second, it tells us that if we cannot humbly admit to that, and in our pride claim that we are well and are righteous, then we essentially reject Jesus, the Divine Physician, from our lives.
It’s also helpful to notice that Jesus was not embarrassed to be seen with sinners. He did not hesitate at all and in fact, He clearly stated that they were those whom He came for. For this reason, we should not be afraid or embarrassed to admit we are sinners who are spiritually ill and in need of our Lord. To deny that fact is to deny reality and to deny the very source of the ongoing healing we most certainly need in life. It’s a denial of our need for Christ Jesus Himself.
Through this occasion, the Lord wants to remind us that we are all beloved and precious to Him, without exception. Not even those whom others consider being great sinners could be far away from God and His love. On the contrary, even if we are separated from God, but are willing to seek God and His mercy, and are humble enough to admit our sinfulness and wicked lives, and willing to embrace His mercy and love, we shall be blessed and strengthened, and we shall be forgiven from our sins.
My dear brothers and sisters, No matter how holy we become, no matter how deeply we pray and no matter how charitable we are, we will always need the healing and forgiveness of the Divine Physician each and every day. Today let us reflect upon the need we have in our lives today for forgiveness. What sin do we struggle with the most? Interestingly, the holier one becomes, the more clearly they see their daily sins and their need for forgiveness and healing. If you struggle with this at all, spend time examining your conscience. Look for ways to do it more thoroughly and honestly. If you do, you can be certain that our Lord, the Divine Physician, will deeply desire to dine with you today and always.
Let us always remember that God gives us two gifts every day. One is a choice, the other is a chance. The choice of a good life and the chance to make it the best. Be the best you can be and leave the rest to God.