sexta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2016


As Jesus went on from there,
he saw a man named Matthew
sitting at the tax collector’s booth.
“Follow me,” he told him,
and Matthew got up and followed him.
Matthew 9:9 (read 9:9-13, 18-26) – NIV

Jesus did not just sit around and wait for the others to come to him. He did not set up meeting places where the needy could go to seek aid. He did not schedule meetings to perform healings and distribute blessings. Rather, he was the one who walked towards the needy and met them where they were. Healings and blessings happened anywhere and anytime! They were spontaneous, without the need to "create appropriate settings". Some of those who sought him even had trouble finding him, because Jesus did not stay at a fixed place. His "church" was mobile.

Also, he was able to see what was unnoticed by most. How many people had passed by Matthew without actually seeing him? For most people, Matthew was a person to be avoided. He represented evil. He was the "bogeyman" of the hated foreign occupation government. He levied taxes. But to Jesus Matthew was a poor lonely soul devoid of friendships and lacking a purpose in life. Jesus simply demonstrated friendship and invited him to come along. Matthew accepted the invitation and embarked on a new direction in life.

Jesus was not understood by the Pharisees who wanted to preserve the purity of religion. For them, good people did not mix with sinners. But for Jesus, holiness is valid only when it freely mixes with sinners. Jesus felt more at home among sinners than among the “saints”. Until this day, the “saints” cannot understand this and strive to remain separate from sinners. Sinners, in turn, feel the rejection of the “saints”.

A hospital is a place where healthy and sick people mix. Hospitals exist in order to shelter the sick and create conditions for recovery. Hospitals have a staff which interns only sick people in order to heal them and release them to return to normal lives. After they get well they are not retained in the hospital in order to stay healthy.

Moralistic religion is like a hospital without the sick. Churches have their "staff of saints", but they want to admit only the spiritually healthy and keep them interned forever. To be admitted to the church, one must demonstrate that he or she is no longer sinful. If one falls into sin he or she may be expelled from the church. The "cured" sinners need to stay in the church to maintain their spiritual health.

The religiousness of the "perfect" has long been a stumbling block to sinners. Nothing has changed. Even today, the tendency of religion is to ignore compassion for the needy and favor discriminate religious practices. For example, consider the Lord’s Supper. It is seen as the “privilege of the saints” and not as “medicine for sinners”. Sinners are barred from a ritual that symbolizes the body and blood of Jesus which was given to redeem the sinners of the world. Our practice of the Lord’s Supper is only for those who consider themselves already redeemed. It is an ironic act which annuls it as a symbol of redemption. Sinners are barred from the liturgy of redemption.

Jesus is a challenge for us to go out into the world and mix with all kinds of people. The love that Jesus practiced was outgoing and outreaching. Our closed and locked church buildings are symbols of alienation, serving only for a select few to occasionally meet together and play out religious roles. Only as we go out to others in compassion and solidarity will the Gospel that we profess to follow have any significance. Will we be able to overcome the barriers that we have created? “Jesus went on from there.” Shall we also?


As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region.

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