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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Don't Care About Others

Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remaintill I come, what is that to you? You follow Me'' .

John 21:22 NKJV

The figure of Matthew, from the Roman gabelle to following Jesus, from the role of the tax collector to that of the dispenser of loaves and fish, fascinates and stimulates my imagination as a Bible reader. The core of the disciples gathered in Capernaum must have known him well, and who knows how much sympathy they had towards him. These are easy suppositions, given what also happens with Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (Luke 19). The bad reputation of the tax collectors was worsened by the fact that some of them practiced usury; while they attracted the judgment of "sinners" as they indulged in unbridled luxuries, abuses and immorality. They were no good and they did nothing to make them want a little good. Jesus never approved of them, even though he did not hesitate to sit at the table with them, because as he said: "the doctor comes for the sick". From the moment he accepts the invitation to follow the Master, Matthew's life is no longer the same. Hated, shunned, surely alone and deeply cold. Jesus, on the other hand, enlightens him and warms his heart. Nobody would have wanted him at home, the Master invites you to join him. If the first reaction of the others was amazement, knowing human nature, I am sure that the suspicion will not be missed later. Surely Matthew was an excellent accountant, but Jesus will entrust the cash to Judas: perhaps a way to avoid further suspicion of him.

Whenever we suppose something ambiguous, we give space to the "suspicion" that damages any relationship of trust. In fact, from that moment on one begins to look at the suspect with distrust. The trust acquired over time is swept away in an instant when a suspicion arises caused by an action, even if most of the time it is insinuated by third parties. Here is precisely "insinuate". The term, from the Latin sinus, indicates a hollow, a fold, an inlet precisely, such as to even reach the soul. The action of insinuating is like leaving the horse in Troy, introducing a "danger" in the narrowest and most intimate folds. Paul warned Timothy in the first letter to pay attention to those who considered "mercy as a source of gain", because their pride would only generate "envy, disputes, slander, bad suspicions, bitter discussions". Wanting to stick to the Pauline indications, we should strive to esteem others for the roles they hold and, in the case of believers, to do everything with the greatest commitment. Mercy and not duty should be the burning flame that animates our relationships. All the more those who hold positions of responsibility in teaching and proclaiming the gospel should abide by "the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, " (1 Timothy 6:3), otherwise "he is proud, knowing nothing” (6: 4). No other interest or motivation can and must animate our work, because, as already stated, only “envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings ” will arise.

Unfortunately, we cannot ignore that behind apparent arguments in defense of truth or some biblical principle, opportunisms and the search for "a source of income" can sometimes be concealed. Peter's question could be placed in this direction: «Behold, we have left everything and followed you; what shall we have then? " (Matthew 19:27). It takes very little for the flock, entrusted to pastoral care, to get away: a doubt that creeps in lightly and silently; the rest will be done by the lack of discernment that exposes him to the skill and dexterity of some. Just as the sea creeps into the cave, as the light breeze creeps into the sleeves, suspicion undermines any relationship. If, on the other hand, it strikes non-believers, it immediately makes them opponents, because the sharp suspicion immediately arouses an idea or a feeling of aversion. Who knows how much the Master must have struggled to manage the characters of the first disciples, to amalgamate me as a team in mutual respect. Yet the doubts raised in the last hours against John tell us how the results are slow in coming (John 21: 20-23). If it is true that some see something rotten everywhere, being by nature suspicious, we should all be more inclined to always believe the good, and in all circumstances offer the possibility of representing their own positions.

Let us pray to the Lord to give us the grace that enlightens us and warms our hearts. Because if we have a clear mind and a heart warmed by love, we will be able to see in the other the good and the potential that Jesus saw in him and in us. This will be the basis for learning the winning formula of service to the needy and fraternal sharing.


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 07

February 07, Leviticus 1-3; Matthew 24: 1-28

February 08, Leviticus 4-5; Matthew 24: 29-51

February 09, Leviticus 6-7; Matthew 25: 1-30

February 10, Leviticus 8-10; Matthew 25: 31-46

February 11, Leviticus 11-12; Matthew 26: 1-25

February 12, Leviticus 13; Matthew 26: 26-50

February 13, Leviticus 14; Matthew 26: 51-75

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