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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Friday 13th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Gen 23:1-4.19; 24:1-8.62-67): The span of Sarah's life was one hundred and twenty-seven years. She died in Kiriatharba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham performed the customary mourning rites for her. Then he left the side of his dead one and addressed the Hittites: «Although I am a resident alien among you, sell me from your holdings a piece of property for a burial ground, that I may bury my dead wife». After the transaction, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.

Abraham had now reached a ripe old age, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all his possessions: «Put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not procure a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live, but that you will go to my own land and to my kindred to get a wife for my son Isaac». The servant asked him: «What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I then take your son back to the land from which you migrated?». «Never take my son back there for any reason», Abraham told him. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and the land of my kin, and who confirmed by oath the promise he then made to me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’, he will send his messenger before you, and you will obtain a wife for my son there. If the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be released from this oath. But never take my son back there!».

A long time later, Isaac went to live in the region of the Negeb. One day toward evening he went out in the field, and as he looked around, he noticed that camels were approaching. Rebekah, too, was looking about, and when she saw him, she alighted from her camel and asked the servant, «Who is the man out there, walking through the fields toward us?». «That is my master», replied the servant. Then she covered herself with her veil. The servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done. Then Isaac took Rebekah into his tent; he married her, and thus she became his wife. In his love for her, Isaac found solace after the death of his mother Sarah.
Responsorial Psalm: 105
R/. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Who can tell the mighty deeds of the Lord, or proclaim all his praises?

Blessed are they who observe what is right, who do always what is just. Remember us, o Lord, as you favor your people.

Visit me with your saving help, that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, rejoice in the joy of your people, and glory with your inheritance.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 11:28): Alleluia. Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mt 9,9-13): As Jesus moved on from there, He saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and he said to him, «Follow me». And Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and other sinners joined Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, «Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?». When Jesus heard this he said, «Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means: ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice’. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners».

«Follow me»

+ Fr. Pere CAMPANYÀ i Ribó
(Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel speaks to us of a vocation, that of Matthew the publican. Jesus is preparing a small group of disciples that would continue his work of Salvation. And He chooses whom He wants: whether fishermen or from humble professions. He even calls to follow him, a tax collector, a highly abhorred role by the Jews —who considered themselves as perfect Law-abiding citizens—, because they saw it as tantamount to having a sinful life, as they collected taxes in the name of the roman governor, whom they did not want to submit to.

It suffices with Jesus beckoning him to his service: «Follow me» (Mt 9:9). A single word by the Master, and Matthew leaves his profession and, happily, invites him to his home to celebrate with a joyous dinner. It was only natural that Matthew had a group of good friends, of the same “professional guild”, to join him at his table. But, according to the Pharisees, all that kind of people were confirmed sinners publicly recognized as such.

The Pharisees could not therefore silence it and they comment with some of Jesus' disciples: «Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?» (Mt 9:10). Jesus' answer is immediate: «Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do» (Mt 9:12). The comparison is perfect: «I did not come to call the righteous but sinners» (Mt 9:13).

These words of the Gospel are topical. Jesus keeps on inviting us to follow him, each one of us according to his condition and profession. And, more often than not, to follow Jesus means to leave behind some messy passions, or some poor family relationships, or just a waste of time, to allot some moments to prayer, to the Eucharist feast or to some missionary pastoral care. In other words «no Christian ought to think of him as his own master, for he is submitted to God's service» (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

Jesus is, indeed, asking me to change my life, so I wonder: which group do I belong to, to the perfect persons or to those who sincerely accept they can dramatically improve? For I can improve, can't I?