Friday, July 6, 2012

Obedience to the Truth

Replying to the Pharisees who asked his disciples: why is your master eating and drinking with the sinners and tax collectors, Jesus said: "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" [Mathew 9:13] paraphrasing the text from prophet Hosea "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" [6:6]

Mathew was a literate, dutiful employee of Herod Antipas who collected tax from the Jews on behalf of the Romans. Jews considered such men an outcast because they extorted their own people. Jesus invites him to be his disciple and he obeys. This obedience involves a great sacrifice especially considering the riches and the lucrative profession Mathew is leaving behind to follow the son of man who has no place to lay his head.

Jesus in saying that he has come seeking not the righteous, but sinners reiterates that he searches out for hearts that are repentant and not self-righteous. Pharisees and scribes assumed themselves to be experts of the law and scriptures and infallible. Swelling pride kept them from inner searching and acknowledging their shortcomings. They judged others without an introspection. Now they do not have the excuse of ignorance because Jesus tells them plainly what they lack. Its impudence and pride that kept them from repenting. Their heavy garments, ornaments and the paraphernalia weighed more than the truth that was calling. They saw everything and understood everything only to confirm what they already believed. They refused to unlearn and start anew.

Mathew on the other hand humbled himself, obeyed, believed and desired to change when truth confronted him. He Invited Truth home and lays bare before Him every secret nook of his life. He also invited his friends who were in the same profession desiring truly to share the gift that came looking for him when he deserved not.

Being a sinner is not the show stopper, but failing to acknowledge the same before God and others is. The greatest of saints are the ones who greatly and deeply acknowledged their sinfulness and confessed their total dependability on God's ability and maintained their ability to be what God in His infinite mercy rationed out to them. Such men excel beyond human abilities embracing the divine. Their virtues know no bounds. They cause a great change in the lives of others by their extreme simplicity, meekness and extraordinary confidence trusting in God the immeasurable potence.  "He prepares those who belong to him for the ministry, in order to built up the body of Christ, until we are all united in the same faith and knowledge of the son of God. Thus we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity and sharing in the fullness of Christ" [Eph. 4:12-13].

The humble man is continually led to the full truth. The proud one resists and stops midway and appoints himself to be learned. Such men use scriptures to validate their claims and what they falsely believe to be truth. Never are we to stop seeking.  The goal is to unite ourselves with the "same faith and knowledge of Christ until we become the perfect Man maturing in the fullness of Christ". The standard Jesus sets for us is high because we are worth it and are capable of it - in Him.

St. Paul continues "Then no longer shall we be like children tossed about in the wind by any wave or wind of doctrine and deceived by the cunning of people who drag them along into error" [4:14].

Lord give me the humility to be obedient to the Truth you reveal. Help me not to ever cease from seeking.