St. Matthew, Apostle

Today's Reading: Matthew 9:9-13

Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 5:1-16; 6:1-9,15-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-16

[Jesus] said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Matthew 9:12b)"

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When you were younger, did you sing, "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. Guess I'll go eat worms?" Or did parents or friends sing it to you when you were grumbling about life, acting like it was you against the world? Maybe you still hear it when you get into one of those moods!

Tax collectors in Jesus' day could identify with the song. Nobody loved them, everybody hated them--even the most honest ones (and many were far from that). The only people they could hang around with were other societal rejects and "sinners."

And then came Jesus. He knew Matthew's reputation; He also knew his heart. Here was a man who lived on the fringe, a sinner whom no one wanted to forgive, a reject whose only friends were the dregs of society. To this most unlikely candidate Jesus offers not only forgiveness but a place among His disciples. The ultimate outsider is suddenly an intimate insider. To the additional horror of the "good church people," Matthew brings more sinners to come meet and eat with Jesus.

Sometimes it's hard to realize just how far outside we are by nature, especially if we grow up in a church-going family. Yet the same chasm that separated Matthew and the "sinners" from God separates all of us from God.

In His mercy, Jesus closed the gap, removed the barriers, and filled the isolation with His presence. With Matthew--and with you--He did so, not by ignoring sin or downplaying its enormity, but by directly addressing it as a death-dealing disease and then moving to treat it with His forgiveness.

Like Matthew, we are healed but not permanently cured. We await our resurrection so the restoration of body, mind, and spirit to complete health and holiness can be accomplished. Until then, we seek healing, give thanks as we receive it, and do all we can to extend it to the sick and the suffering--the outsiders and the "sinners" in our own lives. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Praise, Lord, for him whose Gospel Your human life declared. Who, worldly gain forsaking, Your path of suff'ring shared. From all unrighteous mammon, O raise our eyes anew That we in our vocation May rise and follow You. (By All Your Saints in Warfare, LSB 518:25)

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