Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus and the respectability
As he passed by, he saw Levi … 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 sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them (that), “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Mk 2,14-17
The today gospel is an icon with two scenes: the call of Matthew and the banquet of Jesus with the sinners. Matthew is sitting at the taxes, blocked like the yesterday paralytic, devoted on making money with a work considered dishonest by a lot of people. Jesus calls him, Matthew gets up and follows him. By this scene, beautifully depicted in a painting by Caravaggio, Jesus shatters the whole social diaphragm between the righteous and the sinners. By his entry in the human vicissitudes, there are no more righteous and sinners: there are men and women who, to the extent that they feel to be sinners, are righteous. It is a first blow to the respectability of all the times, the second shot, even stronger, is struck in the second scene, during the lunch with the sinners. The predilection of Jesus for the ”disreputable” people, as the tax collectors and the prostitutes, has always surprised and shocked the people “of sound moral principles”, equitable and respectful of the good rules of the civilized life. In the today’s gospel he is sitting at the table with these people, considered by the scribes and the pharisees the waste of the society. They could accept that Jesus would address to them, to correct them by his teachings, but they are shocked to see him sitting at the table with that company in the joy of the conviviality. This desire of Jesus to share the joyful moments with the sinners, reminds us Dr. Moscati who has been proclaimed saint by the Church a few years ago. He, though being an excellent doctor, chose to treat the poor people of Naples of his time, sharing both the suffering and the misery as well as the moments of joy, with a joyous Neapolitan spirit. The truth which shines on this page of the gospel is to recognize that the salvation is a gift and, therefore, the righteous are not those who believe to be as such, but those who feel in need of this gift and accept it with enthusiasm. To be able to celebrate with the Lord we must then find the gray areas of our lives: these are those which allow us to sit at the table with him, along with Matthew and his friends of dubious reputation, so that the light of salvation can dissipate such grey areas.