What is the Church?  Okay, there’s thousands of ways to answer that question.  Let me narrow it down.  Is the Church a museum for the righteous OR a hospital for the sinner?  At it’s best, the Church is a place where the sick can get healthy.  Sin is a sickness in our world.  It’s a sickness that separates us from the community where we should find ourselves.  We need a place to go where we can get better, where we can recover from this illness.  That’s what the Church is supposed to be.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus adds to his disciple ranks by getting Matthew, or Levi, involved.  Matthew was a tax collector.  Back in those days, that was almost a curse word.  Tax collectors earned their wealth by cheating others.  They had to collect a certain amount from their assigned area, and anything more than that would go to line their own pockets.  They  are often lumped together in generic terms with “sinners” in the gospels.  In fact, they may have been viewed as worse than sinners simply because they were their own category.  Crazy, right?

As was the norm, some people started complaining because Jesus was spending some of his time with this unsavory lot known as the “tax collectors and sinners.”  People can be critical about anything, it seems.  But Jesus’ response is telling.

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.”  Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’  For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

That’s some pretty amazing stuff there, isn’t it?  The healthy don’t need a doctor.  Well, of course, in today’s age of insurance check-ups and whatnot, sometimes, the healthy need to go see the doctor, but not always.  However, the sick still do.  Here’s the little secret, though… we’re all sick.  We haven’t gotten there yet in our readings, but Paul tells us in Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We all have a little of that sickness inside of us.  We all need to visit the hospital from time to time.  So, let’s try to keep it from becoming a museum.