READINGS for 2008-07-04
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” – Matthew 9:11
In a dream, actually a vision, when he was nine years old, this young boy saw teenagers playing and blaspheming God. Headstrong as he was, he went on to engage the boys in a fist fight to defend his faith and put the fear of God in each of those ruffians. A Man (Jesus) told him, “With meekness and charity you will conquer these, who are your friends.” A Lady (Mary) added, “Make yourself humble, strong and robust. At the right time you will understand everything.”
When he became a priest, this dream guided St. John Bosco to care for the young, especially the street children and poor of his era, by being a friend and guide. His formula? Reason, religion and kindness. The boys responded to his love and many grew up to become good citizens. From his work with what others call the “scum of society” came several saints.
Don Bosco saw in each of those poor boys a person with a soul. He understood that God loves each rough-mannered boy and that he must be God’s face to them.
So the next time you see the smelly, dirty and poor street children, look beyond their plight. See the person and soul in each one. Love them with all your might. Jun Asis
Do you turn a blind eye when you see the poor, casting angry glances, blaming them for not being as good as you? Have you thought about what it feels like to be poor?
Lord, help me to develop compassion for the poor and the less privileged. Help me find the best way to help them. Let them see You in me.
Amos tells the people that God is not happy with their failure to care for the poor in their midst. Social justice is a necessary component of a life of faith. No one who says they love God and turn a blind eye to the suffering millions in the world could still be speaking the truth. As James will tell us in his letter to all Christians, “Faith without works is dead.”
Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
4 Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! 5 “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 ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! 6 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!” 9 On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight. 10 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. 11 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. 12 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.”
P S A L M
Psalm 119: 1, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131
R: One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
2 Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart. (R) 10 With all my heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commands. (R) 20 My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times. (R) 30 The way of truth I have chosen; I have set your ordinances before me. (R) 40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life. (R) 131 I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands. (R)
G O S P E L
Jesus makes no apologies for eating and associating with sinners. Such an act may be improper according to the Pharisees’ understanding of the law but they are obviously wrong. How will sinners hear the Gospel if people are not allowed to develop relationships with those they can share the Good News of salvation? True love rejects the sin, not the person.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 10 While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. 11 The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13 Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
think: How will sinners hear the Gospel if people are not allowed to develop relationships with those can share the Good News of salvation? True love rejects the sin, not the person.
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR 2 Chronicles 31-33
i CaME tO Call sinnErs
Jesus calls Matthew, the tax collector, to follow Him. And Matthew got up and followed Him. I am always amazed at the prompt response that the author of the gospel tells us. It almost seems that Matthew follows Jesus right away — there is no hesitation, no turning back, no word spoken. It was simply an act of obedience to the call of Jesus Tax collectors in the time of Jesus were seen as the scum of the earth and to be treated as trash. They were seen as criminals, siding with the Roman government. They were extortionists, collecting exorbitant amounts of money. A Pharisee would walk on the opposite side of the road when he saw the tax collector — to demonstrate his disapproval of his way of life. The tax collector would be spat upon and despised tremendously by the religious authorities and normal citizens of the day. To have any kind of association with tax collectors was absolutely condemned by the ruling authorities. Being in the company of such lowly people would also bring upon ritual uncleanness, rendering one unable to participate in temple worship.
Jesus responds to the horrific stance of the Pharisees as they observe Him accompanying these wicked people. He recommends that the sinners are in need of His embrace and invitation. Since the Pharisees pride themselves as law abiding and of good living standards, they are in no need of salvation. Jesus says, “I came to call sinners…” Matthew (meaning gift of Yahweh) is delighted to be noticed and seen by Jesus. By way of appreciation and conversion in his new life, he opens his home to others to come and share in his happiness.
Jesus calls us to do the same – to open wide the door of our heart and let Him enter. Let us be hospitable in allowing Jesus to be with us. Let us not allow Him to pass us by, but as the disciples on the way to Emmaus asked Jesus, call upon the Lord to “stay with us,” and make His home in us. Fr. Brian Steele
Have you invited Jesus into your life today?
Lord Jesus, I hear Your voice calling me to follow You. I open my house to You. Stay with me, Lord, and never let me depart from You. I am sorry for my sins and I acknowledge You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.
St. Elizabeth of Portugal, pray for us.
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