The Problem of Prejudice

Mark 2: 13-17
Heb 4: 12-16 / Ps 19:8-10,15

Jesus said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’
(Mark 2:17)

We sometimes give a false excuse
When the occasion doesn’t suit us;
Take heed, this call you can’t refuse,
The invitation is from Jesus.

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he taught them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:13-17)

Reflection

To celebrate his new life, Levi gave a dinner in honor of his newfound Master. Some of the invited scribes and Pharisees took offense that instead of joining them in the seats of honor, our Lord chose the company of tax collectors (colleagues of Levi), and other “low-lifers”. “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” they asked His disciples. Jesus heard this and said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

In one of our Brotherhood’s Christian Life Program seminars, a lady participant was heard complaining that she could not sit there and listen to one of the speakers whom she had known to be a womanizer. She didn’t care to give him the benefit of a doubt upon hearing his testimony that Jesus had cured him of his spiritual disease when he entered the renewal. She refused to believe that the speaker was now a converted person. Instead, she had felt scandalized, and promptly walked out of the seminar.

In our journey towards spiritual enlightenment, there is always the danger of becoming self-righteous without being aware of it. Our Lord’s wisdom warns us: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). We should never lose sight of the fact that we are all sinners. Keeping this in mind helps to prevent us from falling into the devil’s snares of prejudice and pride. It also makes us more forgiving of others’ faults, as well as our own. Most of all, being aware of our frailties develops in us a sensitive conscience, an “immunology shield”, so to speak, against the wiles of the enemy.

Christ came to earth to invite sinners, and not the self-righteous. His mercy pardons the gravest sins; His grace transforms the greatest sinners, like Levi the tax collector. Let us imitate our Savior Jesus to win sinners, instead of alienating them.

Grant us the grace, Lord, to develop a discerning spirit and a healthy conscience that will protect us against the infectious viruses of the evil one. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for teaching us Your beautiful prayer that will “keep us away from temptation, and deliver us from evil.” Amen.

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