July 4, 2008
Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 9: 9-13
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present within me. Let me feel your presence in my heart and soul. I want to live this day close to you and see everything through the prism of faith. I want to put my trust and confidence in you. You will grant me all the graces I need today. All I have to do is ask. I want to love you with all my heart, especially in charity, by giving myself to all I meet today so that I can communicate your love to them. Mary, accompany me in this meditation and intercede for me, so that God will grant me what I need to be a better follower of Christ and an apostle of his Kingdom.
Petition: Lord, let me see that you love me despite my sinfulness.
1. God Loves the Sinner. Matthew was of that loathed profession of tax collectors, which made him a sinner ex officio. He collaborated with the Roman occupiers in the oppression of the Jewish people, and for this reason he was condemned, at least by men. But God sees the heart and finds the goodness in each one. After all, there is some good in everyone, since we are all created in the image and likeness of God. We should be thankful to God that he distinguishes between sin and sinner, unlike us judgmental humans who equate them and condemn the sinner with the sin. Am I quick to condemn others, or do I mercifully pray for their conversion?
2. God Rejects the Proud. There is one group of sinners that God has a hard time dealing with, and it is not any fault of his: the proud and self-righteous. They don’t feel any need for God. Even though in appearance they meticulously fulfill the Law to the letter, their hearts are cold and turned away from God. All their perfection is for their own personal self-satisfaction. If any sin is diametrically opposed to God, it is selfishness, for God is love and charity and self-giving. The self-righteous are utterly selfish. The only escape from this spiritual black hole is the practice of charity, for only he who loves his neighbor can say that he truly loves God.
3. I Am a Sinner in Need. How often do I recognize my weakness and sinfulness? Like St. Paul, I find myself doing the sinful things that I utterly reject. The experience of our frailty and sinfulness is healthy for our spiritual life, since it reminds us that we need God’s grace. Many books have been written on self-help and self-esteem, leading us to think we can be self-sufficient. But in the spiritual life, there is nothing more beneficial than acknowledging our indigence and dire need for God’s grace.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I need your help and grace. I can’t get through this day without you, because I am a poor, wretched sinner that you have raised up in your mercy. Thank you for what you have done for me. Teach me how to be merciful with my brothers and sisters and to pardon their sinfulness. Let me see all of them through your merciful eyes and forgive them as I ask you to forgive me. Help me with your grace, and protect me from evil and temptation. Don’t let me rely on my own frail strength, but trust only in you.
Resolution: When I see someone do something wrong, I will pray for that person.
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