REFLECTION FOR TODAY
July 2, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Matt. 9:12-13
The call of Matthew, the tax collector and the eating with the tax collector was highly criticized by the Pharisees. Jesus’ call on Matthew was obviously an expression of the Father’s unconditional love which Matthew responded to immediately because he had felt the loneliness of life.
The response of Jesus to the criticism of the Pharisee in our gospel reference today was outstanding. How would you describe yourself, as one who is “well” or one who is “sick?” Are you among the “righteous” or the “sinners?” Be careful of the pride that comes with our fallen human nature that would often tempts us to claim that we are “well” and “righteous.” But humility will reveal the truth that we are among the “sick” and “sinners.”
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.
Jesus’ willingness to eat at Matthew’s home was a sign of salvation to some and a scandal to others. Jesus was willing to risk his reputation out of love for Matthew. He was not embarrassed to be seen with sinners. He did not hesitate at all but stated that they were those whom He came for.
For that 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.
Do you need our Lord? Do you need interior cleansing, healing, and forgiveness every day? If it’s difficult for you to wholeheartedly say “Yes” to that question, then perhaps you struggle with the pride of the Pharisees more than you know. No matter how holy you become, no matter how deeply you pray and no matter how charitable you are, you will always need the healing and forgiveness of the Divine Physician each and every day.
Reflect, today, upon the need you have in your life today for forgiveness. What sin do you 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.
Lord, You are the Divine Physician Who has come to forgive and heal all of our ills. Remove my pride and self-righteousness so that I can be filled with humility and see clearly the sin in my life. As I see my sin, help me to turn to You and to trust in Your abundant mercy. You came for sinners, dear Lord, and I am one of those sinners in need. Jesus, I trust in You.