Today’s gospel is challenging.  The call of Matthew’s story is just too easy! And why does Jesus spend so much time with tax collectors and sinners?

Saint Ignatius encourages us to read the scriptures—especially the tough ones–with open imaginations.  Through an Ignatian lens I can imagine that Matthew, himself a tax collector, either has some prior knowledge of Jesus or is so moved by the call from the Source of Love that all he can do is get up and follow. Maybe it’s both.

I can also imagine “tax collectors and sinners” feeling so grateful for Jesus’ table fellowship that they open themselves to being nourished by the Bread of Life.

At the heart of the Jesuit mission is to “save souls.”  I’m not always sure what this means, but today’s gospel offers strong examples. Through Jesus’ outreach, Matthew the tax collector becomes a collector of Jesus’ sayings. And social outcasts find a place at the table and a “still more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31).

How can we reach out to others—especially those in great need—to love, to serve, to heal? How can we make the world a better place?

—Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.