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Dear Friends.Kevin Bryant

I have recently taken a service in another Parish in which the readings were taken from Matthew 9 (9-13). They record two events that shine a light on the different way in which Jesus was received

Firstly, Jesus saw Matthew, a tax collector and he said “Follow me” and Matthew did. At least this is how the event is recorded some thirty years later, I suspect there may have been a bit more of a conversation. At that time, under Roman occupation local people were given the task of collecting taxes and they were to charge extra to cover their own wages. They were greatly despised by the people and yet Jesus must have seen something in Matthew, here Jesus is reaching out not to the popular but to rather the opposite. Not only that, Matthew gave up a comfortable life and followed Jesus. What did Matthew see that made him act in such a remarkable way?

The second event tells of later when Jesus is sitting in a house for dinner with many tax collectors and sinners. I know about the tax collectors, but who were these sinners? I suspect not murderers, by the term sinners do they mean us? I mean just ordinary people who get things wrong, people who are not perfect? The Pharisees who took a rather strict view on interpreting Holy texts asked the disciples why Jesus was spending his time with the tax collectors and sinners. When Jesus overhears this, he remarks that it is not those who are well who require a physician but the sick. We see then that Jesus reached out and spent time with those who were despised and the ordinary people who needed support.

What can we take from this in 2023? Well certainly that we cannot judge who is ready to receive Jesus and further we cannot discern where Jesus might be working. We can’t be like the Pharisees and prejudge who might want a relationship with Jesus or indeed who is worthy. All of us, you, me and those around us in our community can be in relationship with Christ, if we make that choice

© Kevin Bryant, Reader.