"Go and learn the meaning of the words..."
"Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice" (Matt.9:13)
In the U.S. at least, one of the great concerns of any patient is to book appointment with a physician. You need to think of the calls to secure a spot in the first place. The waiting time is another. You have to be ready to do the paper work which often takes longer than the real diagnosis and treatment. How about your co-pay or deductible as the case may be? The issue is that it’s always the sick that goes go to the doctor. Jesus points that out today. In his case, he reverses the order. He came for the sick. His incarnation in human flesh was solely to heal us from our infirmities.
Jesus is the real Primary Care Physician to all sinners. He is the Divine Mercy Specialist. Jesus has power to cure all sicknesses (cf. Matt.10:1). In calling Matthew today, he demonstrates his love for sinners, "Now while he was at table in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at table with Jesus and his disciples" (Matt.9:10). The sinners are comfortable with Jesus. They come to be healed of their sicknesses. They come to be cleansed by the divine physician. Sinners have Jesus as their Primary Care Physician. No co-pay to settle, no deductible to complete. Paper works are already filled out by Christ. No sign-in and no special consultation fees to worry about. No protocols of passing through the front desk. Sinners have free access to the Mercy Doctor, Jesus.
On his part, Jesus is comfortable with being around sinners. He knows that his contact will bring substantial change in their lives. He knows they will have successful surgery, and surely, they will be healed. Their tumors of extortion, theft, lies, cheating, manipulations, will be removed. He knows they will convert from tax collectors to collectors of love; from customs agents to agents of God’s healing mercy. Jesus never complains against those sinners, rather it is the Pharisees that become uncomfortable. The Pharisees are the ones who ask why Jesus has to eat with "tax collectors and sinners". Then Jesus responds as follows, "It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice".
Jesus exposes to the Pharisees the abundance of God’s compassion for sinners. God has great interest in his creatures. He sees sinners as sick and in need of healing. He goes after the lost sheep. He searches for the lost coin. He runs after the prodigal son. He spreads himself at table for sinful tax collectors. He seeks recovery of the lost. Sin is internal sickness. It is deformity of the soul. It is corrosion of the heart. It needs the attention of the healer. Jesus is the Healer.
That’s why he says to the Pharisees, “Go and learn”. They are ignorant, and pass judgment as a result. “Go and learn” is an invitation to be healed also of the web of ignorance and bias. It leads to false sense of judgment for another. The Pharisees fall into that trap of forming judgment in their heads. They look on the tax collectors from the point of view of condemnation while Jesus looks at them from the point of view of redemption.
Sometimes, we are culpable of forming judgments about others. We judge our wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children, parents, friends, colleagues. We carry judgments in our heads about those we feel are the “bad guys”. We are the good persons. Jesus tells us to “go and learn”. Go and learn the real meaning for his coming. Go and learn to be agents of love and mercy not of judgment and bias. He wants us to go and learn the reason for our salvation. He says to us, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matt.11:29).
What does Jesus want us to learn from him?
!) Mercy is what God offers.
2) Judgment contrasts God’s mercy
3) Pride can make us to see the other as bad always; it contradicts mercy.
4) We all need the mercy of God because we all have sinned and fallen short of his goodness (cf. Rom.3:23). Who then are we to judge?