13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls on Matthew to become his follower. Jesus looked at this man and said simply, “Follow me.” Did Jesus invite Matthew because the tax collector merited it? Was Jesus responding to a request from Matthew or some hidden longing in the sinner’s heart? Certainly not. Grace, by meaning, comes unbidden and without explanation.
Matthew responds to Jesus’ directive by pointing in amazement to himself and wearing a puzzled expression as if to say, “Me? You want me?”
Matthew instantly got up and followed the Lord. But where did he follow him? To a banquet! “While he was at table in his house” is the first thing we read after the declaration that Matthew followed him. Before he calls Matthew to do anything, Jesus invites him to lounge in easy companionship around a cheerful table. “The deepest meaning of Christian discipleship is not to work for Jesus but to be with Jesus.”
Refection question: How do you find time with Jesus, and when you do, what do you talk about?