“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Matthew 9:12–13
Would you describe yourself as one who is “well” or one who is “sick?” Are you among the “righteous” or the “sinners?” Be careful how you answer this question. Of course, the pride that comes with our fallen human nature often tempts us to claim that we are “well” and “righteous.” But humility will reveal the truth that we are among the “sick” and “sinners.”
This statement of Jesus is a response to the Pharisees who noticed that Jesus was dining at the house of Matthew, the tax collector, whom He had just called to follow Him. Matthew did indeed leave everything behind and followed Jesus, and then he hosted dinner for Jesus at his house. At that dinner, there were “many tax collectors and sinners” who came and sat with Jesus and His disciples, which led the Pharisees to ridicule them all.
Jesus’ response is very important for us to hear. By stating that He came not for those who were well and righteous but for those who were sick and sinners, it tells us two important things. First, it tells us that we are all spiritually sick and sinful. Second, it tells us that if we cannot humbly admit to that, and in our pride claim that we are well and are righteous, then we essentially reject Jesus, the Divine Physician, from our lives. We essentially say, “Lord, I do not need You.”
It’s also helpful to notice that Jesus was not embarrassed to be seen with sinners. He did not hesitate at all and, in fact, clearly stated that they were those whom He came for. For that reason, we should not be afraid or embarrassed to admit we are sinners who are spiritually ill and in need of our Lord. To deny that fact is to deny reality and to deny the very source of the ongoing healing we most certainly need in life. It’s a denial of our need for Christ Jesus Himself.
Do you need our Lord? Do you need interior cleansing, healing, and forgiveness every day? If it’s difficult for you to wholeheartedly say “Yes” to that question, then perhaps you struggle with the pride of the Pharisees more than you know. No matter how holy you become, no matter how deeply you pray and no matter how charitable you are, you will always need the healing and forgiveness of the Divine Physician each and every day.
Reflect, today, upon the need you have in your life today for forgiveness. What sin do you struggle with the most? Interestingly, the holier one becomes, the more clearly they see their daily sins and their need for forgiveness and healing. If you struggle with this at all, spend time examining your conscience. Look for ways to do it more thoroughly and honestly. If you do, you can be certain that our Lord, the Divine Physician, will deeply desire to dine with you today and always.
My forgiving Lord, You are the Divine Physician Who has come to forgive and heal all of our ills. Remove my pride and self-righteousness so that I can be filled with humility and see clearly the sin in my life. As I see my sin, help me to turn to You and to trust in Your abundant mercy. You came for sinners, dear Lord, and I am one of those sinners in need. Jesus, I trust in You.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.