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Green Leaf

July 5

FOCUS: God comes not for the righteous but the sinner.



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In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus call Matthew to “Follow Me.” This encounter with Jesus in some ways is even more remarkable than the encounter that St. Paul had with Jesus on the road to Damascus. While Matthew’s immediate response, like Paul’s, was quite unusual, the rest of the Gospel passage shows what is possible when Jesus encounters us and calls us to be His disciples.

Jesus does not let this encounter with Matthew end there. Rather, he goes to Matthew’s home and dines with him and other tax collectors and sinners. Of course, the Pharisees tag along, curious to see what this up-and-coming Rabbi would do next. What happens is the Son of God is bringing a new way of living to those who need it most. Jesus is offering to change their hearts, which will in time change their lives. He is offering a different remedy. Jesus is offering love and mercy, rather than requiring animal sacrifice and strict observance of the Law of Moses.

For most Catholics, we know how to pray the prayers, receive the sacraments, and observe, albeit loosely, the required practices of our faith. But until we have an encounter with Jesus, until His call to us to become His disciples becomes very real and personal, our lives don’t look any different than the non-believers around us.

Everyone is seeking true love and acceptance. Given our natural tendency toward sin, everyone needs mercy. Unfortunately, like Matthew before his encounter with Jesus, we try to fill these needs like the non-believers around us. The “Good News” is that Jesus became one of us to rescue us from sin and show us how to love. True love is the giving of oneself for others. True mercy is loving others despite their faults and forgiving others for the sake of helping them experience the love of Jesus. But the “Great News” is that Jesus is also calling us to spread His love and mercy as disciples, continuing to build the kingdom of God.

The more we surrender our will to God’s will, the easier it becomes to follow Jesus as his disciples. Don’t let the thought of discipleship worry you. Discipleship requires just two things, love and mercy given freely to others. With this as your daily purpose, Jesus will lead you to the encounters with others that He has planned for you.

Today’s Questions for Prayer and Reflection
How can you follow Jesus’ call to be His disciple today?

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