Friday, July 1, 2011

Jesus calling

today's Gospel reading

It's a funny old world. When I was in Taize a couple of weeks ago the passage we were focusing on for our Bible study during the week was today's Gospel reading. As we sat around, on folding metal chairs under the trees, one thing seemed apparent to us: the gospel text doesn't give us the whole story of the calling of Matthew. Well, why should it? St John in his Gospel basically says what we are getting is the edited high-lights of Jesus' ministry. How could the few lines we have about this incident possible convey everything that could possibly be known about it, especially the context in which it took place. For example, what drove Matthew to be a tax-collector and collaborate with the hated foreign enemy? What was his life like thereafter, excluded and isolated within his community, hated and despised by all the 'righteous' people around him? Had he seen Jesus before? Capernaum was, after all, Jesus' town, his base while in Galilee. Had Jesus seen him before, seen the reject of society looking at him with a certain wistful longing as he gathered followers around him? And what was it like for the hated man to suddenly be invited in, to be made welcome in the face of all that the 'good' people of the town had to say about him? We don't know for sure the answer to any of these questions. But we do know the answer he gave to the invitation that Jesus offered him to be his follower. He took it. He walked away from his old life and began a new one.

When you read that story, who do you see yourself as? Are you like the 'good' people of the town, so sure of yourself and your own goodness that you don't need anyone to call you to follow them? Or are you like Matthew, so sure that you are outside the bounds of society that you don't expect anyone to call you ever - and can hardly believe it when they do? Whichever you are, funnily enough, doesn't really matter. All need the attention of the physician that is Jesus. Then only difference is that some of us are more keenly aware of the fact than others.

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