AFTER THE CURE OF THE PARALYTIC, Jesus left the house and went down to the shore of the lake, where He spoke for some time to the crowds that habitually sought Him out.
Then, continuing His walk along the shore, He passed the station of the customs officers. There was a man sitting there named Levi, a tax-collector, whom Jesus had marked for His own, and He called to him as He passed:
Without asking any questions as to why he should do so, this new disciple left all and followed Christ.
Subsequently, Levi, whom we know better as Matthew (a name probably given him by Christ), offered an elaborate dinner in honor of Jesus. He invited some of his cronies in the tax office and a number of other people whom the Jews regarded as public sinners, and many of these were followers of Christ. Grumbling at this lack of discrimination, the Scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus why He dined with such men, and Jesus replied that His mission was to these sinful outcasts:
“It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. But go, and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call sinners, not the just.”
Now the Pharisees and the disciples of John were fasting that day, and they came to Jesus asking why His disciples did not fast, also. But Jesus said:
“Can the wedding guests fast as long as the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a patch of raw cloth on an old garment; else the new patch tears away from the old, and a worse rent is made. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; else the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is spilt, and the skins will be ruined. But the new wine must be put into fresh skins, and both are saved. And no man after drinking old wine immediately desires new; for he says ‘The old is better.’ “
Meditation: Matthew or Levi was a tax-collector. To the Jews of his day he was the representative of a foreign power, a despicable man who worked for the conqueror. Yet Christ called him and made him one of His twelve intimates; and he became the author of one of the four Gospels. Christ wants all men, not just the “respectable” members of society; He died for all; He loves all. If my love for my fellow-men is to mirror Christ’s love, can I exclude anyone for reasons of class, nationality, or race?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 43-44. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.