Reflection for Friday 1st July 2022

Nigel Price

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Matthew 9.9-13
The Calling of Matthew
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

In the 1970s I was at University and it was a time of protests. I was studying Economics and those were the students who seemed to be the most truculent. One of our lecturers could be found every Saturday on a soapbox in the market square, putting the world to rights, usually with very left wing opinions!
I am not sure that there were lots of things wrong with the system, though undoubtedly there were some, and goodness knows there is still much wrong today. More it was about changing generations, as Bob Dylan put it, ‘The times they are a-changing’. Looking back, perhaps not as much changed as we thought or hoped.
But when Jesus talked about changing times he really meant it. The religious leaders of the time thought that they needed to keep themselves locked away from possible sources of moral or spiritual infection. But Jesus saw himself as a healer and if you are going to heal there is no point in staying quarantined because you will never get the job done!
Assuming that centuries of readers are correct in their supposition that the writer of this Gospel is Matthew the tax collector, then here in the middle of a set of healing miracles we have the story of his own calling. Why would that be so? Well just imagine you were a tax collector – whether in those far distant times, or today. You’re not going to be very popular and many people will be angry with you and you would be lumped together with all the ‘sinners’. For who would believe you were an honest tax collector and anyway, you are siding with the authorities? Year after year this would have been Matthew’s life, so no wonder he thought it a miracle when this young prophet bounds by and calmly says, ‘follow me’.
Is God calling you out of your mundane or unfulfilling life?

And so we pray the Collect:
The Collect
Lord, you have taught us that all our doings
without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts
that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen