By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples” (Mt 9:0-10).
I think this was the first meeting of the TCA (Tax Collectors Anonymous) support group. Matthew’s behavior after his encounter with Jesus must have changed radically. I think perhaps these other sinners, who had known Matthew for a long time, could not recognize him now and decided to come to his house and see who this Jesus person was. Maybe some of those men were there to satisfy their curiosity, but I am sure that those who were there seeking the medicine that healed Matthew, received it, and went home a different way. When we allow God’s mercy to transform us, our story of redemption brings others to Christ; it shows the world that “nothing will be impossible for God” (Lk 1:37).
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mt 9:13). The Bible does not tell us what Matthew was thinking right before his encounter with Jesus, but he must have been looking for something. Maybe he was struggling with the consequences of his choices, wondering if there was a better way to live, when he heard the words, “Follow me”. Matthew responded to the call. He rose up from the depth of his misery; he left his past behind and followed Jesus. And as he followed, he pointed the way for others.
As Christians, or followers of The Way, we have a responsibility to bring others to Christ. I wonder what would have happened if Matthew thought he was “fine” and that he could figure a way out of whatever was bothering him. Would he have even looked up from his ledger to notice Jesus passing by? Would their eyes have had the opportunity to meet? Whatever is going on in our lives, we are called to rise above our misery, lift up our eyes, and encounter Mercy himself. And then, as we experience God’s mercy and allow it to transform us, we must let the way we live our lives point the way and bring others to Christ.