Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading for St. Matthew takes us to the call of Matthew, also sometimes referred to as the tax collector Levi. After Jesus called Matthew, who followed him promptly, Jesus wound up dining with "many tax collectors and sinners" *Matthew 9:10, ESV). Apparently, at least in the estimation of the community, Matthew was part of a pretty shady society.
What do we learn about Jesus' character here? Two things strike me as particularly important. First, Jesus did call Matthew, who did follow Jesus. Jesus doesn't lave us in the condition we are in when we become aware of him. As Matthew left his career, which served as a strong temptation to criminal graft and greed, we also leave behind the things which would interfere with growth in the Christlike character of loving and serving our neighbors.
Second, Jesus is not afraid to come to even those our polite society would reject. In this instance, it is primarily people whose lives would be engaged in absuvie financial relationships. Does Jesus visit loan sharks, prostitutes, and drug dealers? Yes, he does. There is no kind of sinner who cannot receive his call, his correction, and his forgiveness.
Jesus calls sinners to follow him. This is the good news we all need, for we are all sinners. He is the one who will change us. Thanks be to God.
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