Jesus’ love for sinners
Saturday, January 13, 2018 1st Week in Ordinary Time 1st Reading: 1 Sam 9:1-4 Gospel: Mark 2:13-17
When Jesus went out again beside the lake, a crowd came to him and he taught them. As he walked along, he saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And Levi got up and followed him.
And it so happened that while Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners were sitting with him and his disciples for there were indeed many of them. But there were also teachers of the Law of the Pharisees’ party, among those who followed Jesus, and when they saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why! He eats with tax collectors and sinners!”
Jesus heard them and answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Daily Gospel in the
In 2006 when Cebu still staged the now defunct Miss Cebu pageant, candidates were asked this question: If you were to invite four people to a special dinner, two of whom are achievers while the other two notorious, who would you invite?
Stephanie Rose Senires was crowned that night for saying she’d invite the Pope as achiever and Saddam Hussein as the notorious guest. That year, Pope John Paul II had just died and Benedict XVI was the incumbent Pope. Saddam was in captivity at that time, and was eventually sentenced to death by hanging in December that year, after being convicted of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi Special Tribunal for the murder of 148 Iraqi Shi’ites in the town of Dujail in 1982, in retaliation for an assassination attempt against him (Wikipedia).
Third Runner Up Elane Lourdes Gica said she’d invite her Mom and Dad as the achievers; her notorious guests would be the vigilantes (those motorcycle-riding hooded extra-judicial killers hunting criminals in the city of Cebu that year).
If Jesus were asked the same question, his answer would be predictable. He would dine with tax collectors and sinners. His notorious guests would be the Pharisees. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus personally invited Levi, a tax collector on duty, to follow him. That was not a temporary invitation because it required the abandonment of a lucrative position. Levi must have seen something noble in that calling because he readily gave up his job.
While the hearts of those pageant winners were more for the achievers than for the notorious, the heart of Jesus was for the tax collectors and public sinners. “Healthy people don’t need a doctor,” he explained, “but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
–(Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M.
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