Start your year on sure footing, Epiphany 2022, Day 16 of 58
10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 12But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
As a tax collector, Matthew would have been one of those sinners with whom Jesus ate. His calling to follow Jesus precedes this selected passage in verse 9. Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 as a rebuttal to the Pharisees for their strict concepts of purity and holiness. The people who need God the greatest are the ones who appear outwardly to be farthest from God.
However, I think it is much more likely the reverse as Jesus seems to make clear by saying that he came for the sinners. They that need God the most are closer to God than the ones who think they are the closest to God, and feel they need God the least.
I need to have more humility in the way I view others. I can easily become proud of my spirituality, and look down on others because of it. This pride and conceitedness could become a barrier to drawing closer to God, and accepting the universal, human need for divine grace.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner in need of your redeeming. I realize that I have often judged others as being more sinful than me. Full of pride and a sense of righteousness, I have alienated myself from others and from you. Teach me to humbly follow in your footsteps, and maintain compassion and hospitality in the presence of the least, the last, and the lost. In Your Holy Name I pray. Amen.