This week, as over the past month, I continued to read Matthew. It is such a beautiful book that one can simply not rush through it. The chapter I focused on this month was chapter 9, in particular the following verses:
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”Reading: Matthew 9:9-13
Meditation: This passage called to mind a recent conversation I had with a friend. I had loaned her a copy of Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen. What she had picked up on was that Nouwen spent the end of his life working in a facility for disabled adults and felt that this was too lowly a position for such a famous Catholic priest. That placement seriously puzzled her. Although the value of the placement was clear to me as a parent of disabled children (now adults), I could not explain well enough, I guess, to convince her that this was a positive, not a negative, placement. I wish I had come across this passage a little earlier for it explains a lot. There were no people "too lowly" for Jesus's companionship; in fact, He preferred the lowly to the high and mighty (or at least those individuals that the people of the time adored as "mighty"). Who, then are we to consider anyone "below" us -- and besides, are we not all sinners, and are we all not disabled in some way?
Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to praise Jesus for setting such a remarkable example for us. I will ask God to help me grow more like Jesus, and I will repent for each time I have even had a fleeting feeling of superiority of any kind. As always, I will thank God for caring for all of us, including the sinners, the lowly, and the lost lambs.
I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.