After Matthew was called by Jesus, they went together to Matthew's for dinner. And the Pharisees get their knickers in a twist, though you notice they pick on the disciples about it, not on Jesus directly.
I knew that Jesus having a meal with sinners is showing the world that he isn't ashamed to be seen with them, to treat them as brothers. However, I think it really sank in that Jesus is expressing a covenant relationship with these sinners. Or maybe it is that my understanding of covenant is much deeper than it used to be.
It also made me reflect more on the covenant and shared life I experience within the Church when I take communion during Mass. Again, this is something I knew. But this made me really think about it on a deeper level somehow.
|The Meal in the House of Matthew (Le repas chez Mathieu), James Tissot|
Tax collectors were typically associated with sinners. Working for Herod Antipas, tax collectors in Galilee were viewed as traitors to God's people. They also were known for demanding more money than they weree supposed to collect. Jesus' calling Matthew the tax collector to be a disciple would have been surprising; again it signals that christ has come to be a light to all the world, not just to the upright. Also scandalous is that Jesus goes to Matthew's house for a meal. In ancient Judaism, table fellowship expressed covenant solidarity. Shared food and drink symbolized a shared life. By sharing a meal with many tax collectors and sinners, Jesus identifies himself with these covenant outsiders and welcomes them into his kingdom.
Quote is from Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew by Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri. This series first ran in 2008. I'm refreshing it as I go.