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Break Bread with Sinners

First Reading: Am 8:4-6, 9-12

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
and destroy the poor of the land!
“When will the new moon be over,” you ask,
“that we may sell our grain,
and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?”
We will diminish the containers for measuring,
add to the weights,
and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly man for silver,
and the poor man for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”

On that day, says the Lord GOD,
I will make the sun set at midday
and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into mourning
and all your songs into lamentations.
I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth
and make every head bald.
I will make them mourn as for an only son,
and bring their day to a bitter end.

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD,
when I will send famine upon the land:
Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water,
but for hearing the word of the LORD.
Then shall they wander from sea to sea
and rove from the north to the east
In search of the word of the LORD,
but they shall not find it.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

R. (Matthew 4:4) One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
My soul is consumed with longing
for your ordinances at all times.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your justice give me life.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
I gasp with open mouth
in my yearning for your commands.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Gospel: Mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

NAB

July 1

I am a recovering perfectionist. Even though I grew up in the Church and loved the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I never quite understood mercy. Or rather, I understood it for *other* people but never could quite believe that it was meant for me, too. I knew what the Church taught and I loved God, so I desperately wanted to do right. And that was my plan. The only problem with the plan was, well . . . I’m human.

So even though I loved Jesus and I wanted to be holy, I still sinned. (Shocker, I know.)

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. Can you picture it? I imagine Jesus throwing His head back laughing or leaning into a private conversation, listening intently, eyes full of compassion. But as a perfectionist, it’s like I’m standing on the perimeter of the room: I can observe Jesus showing genuine love to sinners, but I am both too ashamed and proud to approach Him and ask for it, much less receive it.

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.”

All this time I thought I was well—following the rules, working for the Church as a youth minister, living a moral life—but perfectionism was eating away at me. I was sick but I wouldn’t go to the Doctor.

One afternoon while sitting in my holy hour at the Adoration chapel, I sensed the Lord say in my heart, “You don’t have to perform.” Consciously or unconsciously, I had been laboring under the weight of this pressure to perform and now He was giving me permission to be human.

I don’t have to get it right all the time. I don’t have to be together all the time—and neither do you.

So pull up a chair with me, Sister, and have a good belly laugh. Because I’d rather break bread with Jesus than look down my nose at the sinners and miss out on the party.

photo credit

Beth Davis is a lover of Jesus, an aunt to five beautiful humans, and a full time youth minister in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is passionate about winning the hearts of young people for Jesus through discipleship.

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