“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Mk 2:17
Jesus' answer to the Pharisees who are complaining about his eating with tax collectors and other sinners seems so obvious, we wonder how the Pharisees could be so blind and deaf. They must have known that the law not only allowed conversations with sinners but demanded it. Like us, the Pharisees often heard and saw they wanted to see and hear. A friend recently accompanied her husband to the doctors office only to realize after the visit that he heard something very different than she heard. In denial about a long present medical condition, her husband simply did not want to hear the doctor's recommendations for his health. The same thing happened to the Pharisees. Secure in their knowledge of the Torah and satisfied with their modest power, they wanted only to find something to criticize in Jesus' behavior in order not to listen to him.
However, when Jesus responds to their resistance and dullness, he teaches all of us. Change is always difficult, and it is easier to criticize someone than to search for their goodness and compassion. Jesus sees past the sins of the tax collectors. Inviting them to supper and building a relationship with them makes it possible for him eventually to speak with them about changing their lives and turning away from their sin. Rather than attack their profession, he sits at table with them in the hope that they will be able to see the error of their ways and change.
It may be trite but most of us realize that we can catch more bees with honey than vinegar. When others experience us only as harsh critics, it is very difficult for them to hear us, but when we offer to be a light in their world, they have a chance to see themselves as they are and change.
Today, praise someone whose behavior often irritates you.
Have you ever been changed by someone's kindness and understanding?