Commentary of the Day

"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
by Saint Ephrem (c.306-373), deacon in Syria, Doctor of the Church

Our Lord chose Matthew, the tax collector, to encourage his fellows to join him. He looked on sinners, called them, and brought them to sit beside him. What a wonderful sight! Angels stand trembling while publicans, seated, rejoice. The angels are struck with awe before the Lord's greatness while sinners eat and drink with him. The scribes choke with hatred and indignation, the publicans rejoice because of his mercy. The heavens saw the sight and were filled with wonder; hell saw it and was maddened. Satan saw it and was enraged; death saw it and withered; the scribes saw it and were much troubled.There was joy in heaven and happiness among the angels because the rebellious had been persuaded, the recalcitrant quieted and sinners reformed, and because publicans had been made righteous. Just as our Lord did not turn away from the shamefulness of the cross in spite of the entreaties of his friends (Mt 16:22) so he did not refuse the company of publicans in spite of the taunts of his enemies. He despised mockery and scorned praise, thus accomplishing all that is for mankind's good.

From: Commentary on the Gospel, or Diatessaron, 5, 17 (SC 121, p.115 rev.)