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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday 13th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Amos 8:4-6.9-12): Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! «When will the new moon be over», you ask, «that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?». We will diminish the containers for measuring, add to the weights, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell! On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight.

I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations. I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth and make every head bald. I will make them mourn as for an only son, and bring their day to a bitter end. Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from the north to the east. In search of the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.
Responsorial Psalm: 118
R/. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.

With all my heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commands.

My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times.

The way of truth I have chosen; I have set your ordinances before me.

Behold, I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life.

I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.
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?

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