It is safe to say that Jesus did not agree with everyone. Jesus did speak endlessly about love, about loving living, about love being of our essence because God is love. And so we love. Love is the reason for our being. Love for those for whom we feel tenderly, feel a sense of belonging, feel compassion towards. We love them, and that love flows as freely as water flowing in a stream. But Jesus also calls us to love our enemies. Calling someone an enemy is oftentimes not politically correct to say, then and now. More often there are people whom we may find repelling, disgusting, stupid, clueless, getting in the way of the life and values we so cherish. These “enemies” are people whom we may judge are not helpful to our program and not aligned with our values.
The passage read as today’s Gospel is a series of closely connected events occurring early in Jesus’ ministry; just after he had called Matthew to be one of his disciples.
We heard that as Jesus sat at dinner many tax collectors and “sinners” came and were sitting with Jesus and his disciples. (This was also recorded in the Gospels of Mark and Luke.) In Luke’s Gospel it says that Levi, whom we also know as Matthew, had invited Jesus to eat at his house. It may be that Matthew did not feel it necessary to say in his Gospel where it occurred.