Be Not Prejudiced

Friday of Week 13 in Ordinary Time - Cycle II

Amos 8:4-6, 9-12 & Mt. 9:9-13

There is an obvious connection between today's two readings - they both condemn greed and injustice. Amos criticises those businessmen who exploit the poor and make huge amounts of money for themselves by dishonest means. In Jesus' time the tax collectors were also regarded as crooks.

They were appointed by the Roman government to raise taxes from their fellow Jews. They were paid no wage for this work but were entitled to take some of the tax revenue for themselves. Undoubtedly many took far more than was reasonable. In the opinion of the Jews, therefore, all tax collectors were the same - hard-hearted extortionists. They were about as popular as today's traffic wardens!

Perhaps in this respect it was the Jews themselves, who felt virtuous, who were being unjust. They judged all tax collectors by the standards of the unscrupulous ones and so were prejudiced against them. Despising them they could not understand why Jesus was willing to talk to such people - and even eat with them. But Jesus was not prejudiced. He observed one particular tax collector, Matthew, and saw in him a man who would make an excellent Apostle. When Matthew heard Jesus say, "Follow me", he responded immediately and generously.

It's so easy to judge people by the company they keep. Often this can provide an accurate assessment but there may be times when we are too quick to make assumptions, about how someone will act, or think, or his or her character. Jesus looks at each of us as individuals. He knows our weaknesses and our strengths, and He knows how much we need Him. If we are tempted to think of ourselves as virtuous in comparison with others, then we are saying that we do not need Jesus' help. He tells us today that it is the sinners who are His first concern - and is that not what we are?

Lord Jesus we pray that You will judge us with justice and also with mercy. You most certainly want us to judge others in the same way.