• Sarah Raad


“Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, then it tries to silence good.” (Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput).

Anointing His Feet (Wayne Forte)

I have been reflecting on the calling of the Apostle Saint Matthew, who was a tax collector, who left everything to follow Christ.

I have written before about Saint Matthew, because I find the story of his conversion so fascinating. There he was sitting in his booth, and Christ walked past, called him, and Saint Matthew stood up, left everything and FOLLOWED…

“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him.” (Matthew 9:9).

And though I have thought often about this conversion of Saint Matthew, this time, my thoughts turn not to the moment of his conversion, but to the days, weeks, months and years that followed it.

You see, almost immediately, Christ was criticised for eating with tax collectors and sinners…

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” (Matthew 9:10-11).

And it is easy to imagine this scene... There was Christ eating and laughing and socialising with people who were causing offence to God – causing offence to Him. There He was befriending the very people who would crucify Him – the people for whose sins He was born to die…

It almost does not make any sense at all – until I started thinking about it a little more.

You see, it is true that Christ socialised with sinners. He ate and drank and travelled with people who had been tax collectors, and those who had been prostitutes. And this continued throughout His life. In fact, the woman who washed the Holy Feet of Christ with her tears and dried them with her hair in the days prior to His death was described in the Gospel in a way that indicates that she was probably a prostitute...

“A sinful woman in the town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. So she brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind Jesus at his feet, crying. She began to wash his feet with her tears, and she dried them with her hair, kissing them many times and rubbing them with the perfume.” (Luke 7:37-38).

And this too teaches me something. Because though it is true that Christ socialised with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners, it is also true that the prostitute cried tears over His feet and the tax collector left his booth… And that is the whole point I guess… Because when Christ was finished with them, these people were not prostitutes, tax collectors or sinners any more – they were saints…

And that is really what my Beloved is all about – that transformation…

Pope Francis explains, “Prayer is listening and meeting with God. Daily problems, then, do not become obstacles, but calls from God to listen and find who is before us. The trials of life are thus transformed into occasions to grow in faith and charity.” And this happens because though Christ socialises with sinners like me, he does not tolerate sin. You see, Christ is PERFECT GOODNESS and could never tolerate sin because “evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, then it tries to silence good.” (Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput).

And how lucky I am that when Christ sits with me, He transforms and does not tolerate. How lucky am I!

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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