Chrysostom teaches us that the Church is a hospital, not a courtroom; and here we see Jesus teaching this very lesson. The Pharisees condemn Him because He goes to dine with “tax-collectors and sinners.” They, being self-righteous, feel as though these sinners are unworthy to be in the presence of a Jew, thus Jesus should instead be dining with the “clean” people, those “worthy.” See, it’s important to notice that Jesus won’t share company with those who deny their need for Him. When we minimize our sin, we minimize our need for salvation. As a sick man who thinks he is well would never seek the doctor who could cure him, neither can a man who doesn’t recognize his sinfulness fully seek after the salvation of the Physician who can heal his soul. It is not until we fully admit our sinfulness that we will ever truly seek the One who can save us from it.
Then we see examples of exactly that. We see the woman with the flow of blood, whose faith is such that she believes that merely the touching of the hem of His robe will heal her. Two blind men who believe so strongly that He can heal them that they actively seek Him, crying out “Lord have mercy.” A man whose daughter had died, whose faith was so strong that he truly sought after Jesus, believing that He could raise her back to life.
See, without this faith, each of us is unclean, each of us is blind, each of us is dead. I’ve oft heard the statement that, “if you are happy with where you are, keep doing what you’ve always been doing.” Separated from the grace of Jesus, each of us continues seeking the same happiness in the same ways, the same earthly pursuits, trying the same methods; and yet, expecting to find a different yield. Lost in our own ways, seeking our own goals, completely separated from the joy and contentment that only Jesus can bring us.
But, each of us also has another option. Like each of these examples, we have the opportunity to go to the great Physician, confessing our sickness, and faithfully pleading “Lord have mercy.” And He, the great Physician, will heal us and invite us, like the “tax collectors and sinners” to join Him in the heavenly feast.
None of us is perfect. But, like the Pharisees in this passage, rather than confessing our own faults, all too often we prefer to point out the weakness and sickness of others. See, each of us, the lawyer, the prostitute, the policeman, the thief, the doctor, the addict, the gossiper, the gambler; each of us has this same opportunity. There is no sin bigger than any other, for Jesus gave us many facets of one Law, not many laws. Thus, to break any one of them is to break the whole of the law, for the Law itself is one.
But, He has also given us the Church as His hospital, not for our judgment or condemnation, but for the sake of our healing; and has prescribed the sacraments, the disciplines, the traditions to us as our medication. If we will but go there, confess our sickness, and actively seek His mercy, then we will be healed; and we can hear His voice, as did each of those in this passage, stating, “your faith has made you well.”