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Maurice Timothy ReidyFebruary 25, 2023
jesus stands with arms outstretched in a stained glass imagePhoto via Unsplash.

A Reflection for Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Find today’s readings here.

The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (
Lk 5:30-32)

Imagine you are one of the “righteous” believers in today’s Gospel. You have heard about Jesus and the miracles he is said to perform. Some of your friends are wary of him, but you find yourself intrigued. All your life you have sought to follow God and have eagerly awaited the arrival of the Messiah. You want to learn more about this man.

But when you do find Jesus, he is otherwise occupied. He is sitting and eating with tax collectors. For a moment, you wonder why Jesus makes time for sinners and none for you, someone who has sought to follow God’s dictates all of your life. Shouldn’t you be rewarded with a few moments with the man who could be your savior?

Yes, Jesus made time for tax collectors, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time for you and me.

Then, as you watch Jesus, he catches your eye for a moment—and he smiles. It is only a fleeting moment but you find yourself thrilled by his attention. You forget about your petty jealousies and begin to think that maybe this man is who they say he is. You leave the crowd behind, and as you walk home, you keep thinking about Jesus and his smile.

Yes, Jesus made time for tax collectors, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time for you and me.

When I am tempted to act like the righteous believers in today’s reading, I remind myself that I am not in charge of divvying up God’s love and attention. It is not up to me to decide who God spends his time with. The important thing to remember is that he is there for me, and always will be.

It is very tempting to think that we deserve God’s attention—and others do not. Fighting that inclination can be very, very difficult. What helps me, in those very human moments, is to forget for a moment about myself and just focus on imagining Jesus and, if I can summon it, his smile.

In that moment I am free of my frustrations and jealousies. I am free of the bad spirits that tempt me to question my neighbor. I am free of anxiety, and peace is (truly) with me.

These moments don’t last forever, of course, but they don’t have to. It is enough to know they are possible.

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