Jesus, Tax Collectors & No Condemnation


#1

Yesterday, just before Mass ended, as a kind of addendum to the homily, our priest shared with us some thoughts he’d had as he prepared his homily on Jesus’ calling of Matthew the Tax Collector. Father said he’d been struck by the thought that no Christian church, including the Catholic Church, treated sinners like Jesus did Matthew and the people he shared a meal with in Matthew’s house that day. There was no condemnation. Jesus joined in a meal with those who were considered the most public of sinners in that day and culture. There was no suggestion that these sinners had to somehow make themselves acceptable before Jesus would dine with them. Jesus acknowledges their sins, but only when He reminds the Pharisees that God is looking for mercy, not sacrifice.

Father went on to make an extremely impassioned statement, that as long as he was pastoring our parish there would be nothing condemnatory from either the diocese or the Church printed in the bulletin or spoken in the homily. He got a round of applause from about half the congregation present.

I thought it a laudatory sentiment, although somewhat vague. Condemnation of what…abortion? Homosexuality? Adultery?
Did Jesus sit down to eat with the various sinners to validate who and what they were, lifestyle-wise? Doesn’t Jesus readily point out that they have something wrong with them, that they need the Physician they’re eating with?

I also thought about human beings and how we prefer forgiveness of sin to change. How we love to turn the seventy times seven in our own directions instead.

Now, I’m all for throwing wide the doors and saying everyone is welcome. But don’t we need to make the point, up front, that once you encounter Christ, He will change you forever. Come just as you are, but don’t expect to stay that way. Wasn’t Jesus simply making the point that in God’s eyes, tax collectors and Pharisees were indistinguishable?

Thoughts?


#2

Jesus said to Matthew “Come follow me” and Matthew did. Matthew had to and did give up his previous lifestyle. Jesus did not condemn the lifestyles of sinners but He also never endorsed sinners lifestyles either. Remember the woman at the well and the women who would be stoned. Jesus’s reply at the end was, to paraphrase, “go and sin no more”. He clearly did not wan them to continue in their ways.
I believe the other point was don’t be so presumptuous about your state in life. The Pharisees made sure that they were above the sins of the average person and therefore presumed they were sinless since they followed to the tee all the Mosaic Laws. When Jesus says why do the healthy need a physician he is talking about our view of ourselves. Do we need Jesus and His healing or are we so clean that we don’t need Him. Be careful about being so self righteous.


#3

It sounds like he means that Jesus did not feel the need to go around pointing out everybody’s sin when they weren’t bothering somebody else.

The people He had a problem with were those who were telling sinners that they were sinning.

Yet today many Catholics, under either the “admonish the sinner” act of mercy or other clause, or cute saying like “hate the sin, love the sinner,” continue to perform this one act of mercy as their primary mode of dealing with sinners. Whether they intend to condemn or not, that is how the message is received so from the lives of those they touch, that may as well have been the message intended.

These people will quickly forget that Jesus intervened on behalf of the sinner against her punishers who would throw stones, in favor of remembering how Jesus told the woman she had many husbands.

Alan


#4

I think the point of the Sunday’s Gospel is that God welcomes those who reach out to him for help. No matter how bad a sinner you are, if you give up your life of sin, and acknowledge to yourself and to God that you are nothing without Jesus, and if you make every effort to follow Christ, then you can be saved. In that way, Matthew is more pleasing to God than the Pharisees who spend all day practicing empty ritual, thinking that their exacting efforts to follow the law are what God cares about. It’s a “new covenant” message.

So your pastor may have been saying that he isn’t going to act morally superior like the Pharisees did, but instead follow Jesus’s example and reach out and help sinners to leave their life of sin behind and follow Christ.

Pete


#5

[quote=Pete2]I think the point of the Sunday’s Gospel is that God welcomes those who reach out to him for help. No matter how bad a sinner you are, if you give up your life of sin, and acknowledge to yourself and to God that you are nothing without Jesus, and if you make every effort to follow Christ, then you can be saved. In that way, Matthew is more pleasing to God than the Pharisees who spend all day practicing empty ritual, thinking that their exacting efforts to follow the law are what God cares about. It’s a “new covenant” message.

So your pastor may have been saying that he isn’t going to act morally superior like the Pharisees did, but instead follow Jesus’s example and reach out and help sinners to leave their life of sin behind and follow Christ.

Pete
[/quote]

It is one thing to be arrogant and proud, pointing out the sins of others (that’s what the pharasees did.)

It is another thing entirely to tolerate sins, especially blatant, flagarant sins (like wearing the rainbow sash while approaching the communion rail.)

We should never attack individuals, but seek by example and charity to lead them to Christ. And we should equally never blind outselves to attempts to “modernize” Christ’s message.


#6

The pharisees had the causal direction wrong.

They were afraid that Sinners would influence the Holy.

Pretty weak faith.

If you truly are Holy, it is the Sinner who will be transfigured by You.

How many of us are that certain of our mission? Not me, for sure. But I hope to get there some day.


#7

[quote=adnauseum]The pharisees had the causal direction wrong.

They were afraid that Sinners would influence the Holy.

Pretty weak faith.

If you truly are Holy, it is the Sinner who will be transfigured by You.

How many of us are that certain of our mission? Not me, for sure. But I hope to get there some day.
[/quote]

:amen:


closed #8

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