I often wish that I could see in people the same things that Jesus sees. Obviously, Matthew was not qualified for the role of apostle, but he was called anyway. Matthew was, as we know, a tax collector. Tax collectors in those days tended to be rather unscrupulous. They would have assigned to them people from whom to collect a tax, and they would be charged a certain amount by the government to be paid by the people assigned to them. Anything they could collect above and beyond that was theirs to keep. So tax collectors were seen as greedy and usurious, collecting taxes far beyond what people should have been required to pay.
So it’s hard to blame the Pharisees for being taken aback at Jesus dining with tax collectors and other sinners. But Jesus could see beyond all that. First, he saw that these people were willing to be healed of their sins and infirmities. The Pharisees had their own spiritual ailments, of course, but they were unwilling to address them. Matthew and the others were. But second, Jesus also saw something in Matthew that said he would be a good leader and preacher. He obviously was, because we have the Gospel that bears his name as the fruit of his labor.
Wouldn’t it be great, then, to see people as Jesus does? To get beyond the things that are others’ rough edges, even beyond all the things about others that can really annoy us. What a gift it would be to see straight into the hearts of all of them, and to love them for the gifts they were created to be! My prayer is always that I can see others and love others as Jesus does. If we all did that, think how many Matthews there would be, all proclaiming the Gospel!