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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Sunday 10th (A) in Ordinary Time

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».

«I did not come to call the righteous but sinners»

+ P. Jorge LORING SJ
(Cádiz, Spain)

Today, Jesus speaks to us of the joy, the conversion of someone who grew apart of God, can give us. But some Gospels have texts that can be misunderstood, such as: «I did not come to call the righteous but sinners» (Mt 9:13), or this other Jesus also said: «In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!» (Lk 15:7). It looks like God would prefer we were sinners, but this is not so. The joy is greater because it is a different type of joy, completely anew.

If a young emigrant comes back home, his mother experiences a joy her other sons that remained with her cannot give her. His mother would have certainly preferred his son would not have had to emigrate to find a job, but with his return home, she feels a very special kind of exultation. When a seriously ill son recovers his health, he gives his father a new kind of happiness his other healthy sons cannot procure him. But the father would still have preferred his son did not fall ill at all. It is the same joy the father of the prodigal son felt when he came back home.

It is evident the Lord wants us to be faithful to him and that we do not grow apart from him. But when we do, He goes out looking for us, as the Good Shepherd that leaves his flock at the sheep pen and goes out seeking the lost sheep, until he finds it. «Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do» (Mt 9:12); Jesus Christ, divine doctor, does not wait for the ailing to come, but He himself goes out to meeting them. St. Augustine says, Jesus «calls the sinners to peace, and the ailing to cure».