I would probably have had difficulties with Jesus’ call of Matthew in today’s Gospel (Mark 2: 13-17) – not for the same reasons that the Pharisees had, but because he was allied with the imperialistic oppressive Roman occupiers.
How could such a man, allied with the unjust oppressors, become a follower of Jesus, the Prince of Peace?
Part of the answer is found in today’s first reading from Hebrews 4:12-16. I was particularly struck by two verses:
“All creation is transparent to him.” (v. 13)
Nothing is hidden from God; he sees into the hidden recesses of our hearts and can see our weaknesses, our failings, our sins.
“we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” (v. 15)
Jesus shows us the face – and the heart – of a compassionate God, a God who has compassion (suffering with us) because he sympathizes (feels with us) in our weaknesses.
Even as we recognize our sins and weaknesses, we need not see them as insurmountable obstacles to God’s loving call to be his followers.
He sees all this, but loves us and wants us to be his companions, those who break bread with him at the table and follow him to spread the good news.