Rev. Mr. Roger J. Landry
Domus Sanctae Mariae Guadalupensis, Rome
Saturday, Week I of OT, Year I
January 16, 1999
Heb 4:12-16; Mk 2:13-17
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned.”
This is one of the most consoling passages in all of Sacred Scripture. When the Second Person of the Trinity took on human nature, his kenosis extended all the way to suffering the temptations all of us go through. The letter to the Hebrews says that he was tempted in every way that we are. When we really confront this passage head-on, it should leave our mouths ajar in awe. Not only did Jesus suffer the temptations we read about during his forty-day retreat in the desert, but he also suffered the temptations you and I have been suffering from lately. In some way. Both the big temptations and the little embarrassing ones we’re too afraid maybe to admit.
Why did he do this? So that he could sympathize with us in our weakness. Our high priest loved us that much.
It is in a sense, logical, therefore, that when Jesus was choosing men to carry on his ministry as priests, he wanted to choose those who could sympathize with human weakness as well. And who better to get than repentant sinners? We see in today’s Gospel, Jesus went to the despised tax collector’s post and called Levi, aka Matthew, to follow him. Matthew then threw a party for Jesus, in which Matthew called other tax collectors and known sinners to meet the Lord. Matthew, being a sinner himself, was able to sympathize with and draw other sinners to Jesus. This was entirely in Jesus’ plan, who said later, “I have come to call sinners.” That was the plan for which he sent out his repentant-sinner-apostles. That was the reason he founded the Church on a man whose almost first words to Jesus was “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” That’s why he’s called so many sinners, including the two in front of you, to continue this mission.
And we’ve come to call sinners to the Lord, who, although he suffered every temptation, never sinned. He can sympathize with our weakness and promised that when we recognize we are weak and turn to him, he will make us strong, as St. Paul promised. With his help we can overcome temptation and not sin. Let us turn to him now, He who takes away the sins of the world. This Divine Physician is about to give us, his sick patients, the most incredible medication ever, himself.