Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow Me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed Him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for Him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
I have not come to call the righteous. While there is truth to the saying, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33), Jesus’ eating with sinners and tax collectors is not because He wants to become a sinner like them. On the contrary, He joins them so as to lift them out of their sinfulness. Jesus does not want to save sinners “from a distance.” He wills to be with them and raise them up. This is part of his “decision” to come down and become like us.
It is so easy to judge someone in the company of “bad” people, because our idea of being “good” is usually that of separating ourselves from them. There is a more “proactive” way, however, that is, to enter into the world of these perceived sinners in the hope of helping them out of their sinfulness. This can be a challenging course, though dangerous. Jesus has to pay the price for this in terms of being perceived as “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Mt 11:19).
Separating ourselves from such people is a sign of elitism and self-righteousness. And, in the process, we are not able to help them out of their condition.
Do you risk being perceived as bad because you reach out to perceived sinners?
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.