We often hear it said, as St. Paul also says, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:33). In fact, parents usually warn their children to choose who they associate or make friends with. The fear is that one becomes what one’s companions are. While this has truth in it, Jesus overturns this piece of “wisdom” into a greater wisdom: that we cannot just judge others outright to be this and that, just because people brand them so. Jesus did not avoid those thought to be sinners, among who were tax collectors. On the contrary, he mingled with them and befriended them because he knew that deep inside they were more than what people branded them to be. They might have been real crooks, but Jesus made it clear that they were not hopeless cases, and it was precisely for such people who were under the grip of sin that he came. He came in order to save, to lead the unrighteous to repentance and receive forgiveness. And so, let us not be afraid of sinners; after all, we all are. Would we, therefore, want Jesus to avoid us?
FIRST READING • Heb 4:12-16
The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
Responsorial psalm • Ps 19
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.”
Gospel • Mark 2:13-17
Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”