Heb 4:12-16; Ps 95:6-11; Mk 2:13-17
As one Catholic Apologist explains it, the encounter with Jesus Christ is like the encounter with lighting; it changes everything. When the Word became Flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ everything changed. The Living Law, Christ Our God, reinterpreted the Law, which had become something less than a delightful response to the saving deeds of the LORD. Indeed, the Divine Teacher spoke words that were nothing less than Spirit and Life. The Law was too often interpreted as the end rather than the means to the end; in Christ its perfection is seen again, it refreshes the soul. The Decrees of the LORD were too often presented as a burden rather than a blessing; the interpretation of Christ is trustworthy, and they now give wisdom to the simple. Too many people saw The Precepts of the LORD as impossible demands; in Christ’s teaching the heart again rejoices. Again and again the Commands of the LORD were being presented in a confusing and obtuse manner; Christ Our God makes the Father’s will clear, and our eyes are enlightened. Because of the Incarnation of the Eternal Logos, the fear of the LORD is again pure. We no longer struggle under a servile fear of God, but we live in filial fear of offending our loving Father. Now, the words of our mouth and the thoughts of our hearts find favor before the LORD, our rock and our redeemer. As the Letter to the Hebrews reveals the Word of God is effective, sharp, and penetrating; sounds a bit like lightening—shocking indeed. How shocked were those who first heard the Lord Jesus say, “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners”? How shocked are we?
The Word of God, the Eternal Logos, True God from True God, has taken flesh and dwells among us. This shocking news, this unexpected event, has changed everything. Now the Word of God is no longer just transcendent; he is immanent. Now the LORD is within our experience; the LORD is near to us. The Word of God is living and effective. He is sharper than any two-edged sword; he penetrates between soul and spirit, joints and marrow. This Word is able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart. Indeed, no creature is concealed from him; everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. Even if we are confused and unsure of our own thoughts and feelings, the LORD knows our minds and tests our hearts. We are completely available to his probing, searching, and longing. Nothing and no one is a stranger to the LORD, and the LORD, the Incarnate Word is no stranger to us and to our struggles. Our Great High Priest is able to sympathize with our weakness; he has been tested in every way—yet without sin. This is the greatest shock of our encounter with Jesus, the Son of God. He took on our human nature and he did not sin. In this testing of our human nature we have been found capable of a new humanity. No longer do we base our identity on the Old Adam, who sinned. Now we base our identity on the New Adam, who never sinned. Christ, Our Great High Priest, is approachable because he approached us. He suffered the testing of his will, and this makes him like us. He triumphed over all temptation, and this gives us hope for a share in his victory over sin. This is the Great Good News that makes ordinary time so Extra-Ordinary. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
The crowd is mixed. Some saints and some sinners crowd around the Lord Jesus. He teaches them by words and by example. He approaches one sinner, one despised and rejected tax collector. He approaches Levi, son of Alphaeus, who is making his living from the Oppressor Rome. He raises the taxes of the Emperor so that he can make a living. Part of his income is sent to support the Pax Romana, the roads and the military who make sure these public routes are safe and passable. Such a trader stands between the oppressed and the oppressor; he is not welcome in either culture. However, he is chosen, called, and selected by the Lord Jesus, “Follow me.” The Pharisees believe that keeping away from sinners is the same thing as keeping away from sin. They are so insecure about their own virtue that they dare not subject themselves to the company of sinners. However, the Lord Jesus is not insecure. He is confident in his own identity. He has come as a Divine Physician to heal and save the sinners. Even today the Lord Jesus is found among the imperfect and weak who claim to be his followers. The not-so-righteous have hope in his companionship. Indeed, it is still shocking to the righteous that the sinners have such a Divine Companion. Indeed, Jesus is the Friend of Sinners.