St Matthew's Cathedral -- Washington, DC
The letter of St. Paul to the community at Ephesus near the Mediterranean Sea, in particular the selection of today's 1st reading, can be seen as an amplification of the message or purpose of Jesus' discussion with Matthew, tax collectors and sinners . Matthew's words answer that many may have wondered: Jesus did bring to his home some of those who were attracted to Jesus and his mission. The text today makes clear that this part of the Matthean "Life of Christ" (the gospel) is about healing. Sinners and the notorious Jewish tax collectors must have felt what was a "calling" to the inner needs in their lives. As usual Jesus' style was challenged by some of the Pharisees -- among the town's hypocrites. Jesus does not allow their criticism go unnoticed nor without correction: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." So often sacrifice is not as challenging as is mercy or forgiveness. It is much easier to someone in financial need a contribution than it is to give someone who is truly hurting something of one's inner self, one's being. Jesus is inviting not only the sinners and tax collectors but even the Pharisees to personal healing. It is St. Paul's words to the Ephesians that paint the portrait of those who have been graced with healing. Theirs are lives of humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with others and striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit. Each of us has been invited to accept God's healing in life and to live that grace-filled life according to God's plan.
Psalm 19:3-4 says it well about those whose lives are healed, whose lives are silent witnesses to the call they have received from God:
No speech or words are used, no sound is heard;
yet their voice goes out to all the world
and it is heard to the ends of the earth.