MATTHEW 9. 9-13, 18-26
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’ While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.
This week we are forced to examine the meaning of merciful living and love in action.
After calling Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him, Jesus is criticised for his association with ‘tax collectors and sinners’. They can’t understand why he is wasting his time with such people. Jesus corrects them, and says that what he wants is mercy, not ritual sacrifices. He tells them that he was sent to those who are sick. The gathering is interrupted by a synagogue leader whose daughter has died and a woman who had been ill for 12 years. Jesus restores the girl to life and heals the woman. News of this spread quickly! It is so easy for us to be critical of others; it’s easy to tell others what they should or should not be doing. We all have power, some have a lot, others a little, but we all have the ability to choose how we use what we have in responding to events and people. In the story, Jesus could have shunned the woman with the haemorrhage, just as the rest of the community had. He could have chosen to say nothing. He could have chosen not to heal her. But he didn’t. He went the extra mile and not only healed her but called her ‘daughter’. This is the only recorded time when Jesus called someone daughter. Jesus showed immense compassion, love and mercy to this woman, because he knew what a difference it would make in her life to be accepted as part of the community, to be loved. He became her advocate because she had nobody else.
This passage encourages us to explore what merciful living is; Jesus wanted mercy, not sacrifice. But what exactly is that? I wonder what mercy means to you? Can you think of a time when you have been shown mercy, or when you might have shown mercy to someone else? This week our gospel passage invites us to explore what it means to live mercifully, to show love and compassion to our neighbours and those we live and work alongside in our communities. We have the power to show God’s love, compassion and forgiveness to those around us. This in turn will have an impact upon their lives and how they might respond to another in need of mercy. How are we able to do this in our church community?
Reflection inspired by Roots