Ambassadors for Christ’s Hospital
“Think about this: You don't know when these people are going to die. They could get into a car today and be killed on the way home. Did they ever hear about Jesus? God has put you in their lives to be His ambassador. You're His megaphone, through which He wants to call out to them to come to Him and be saved.” ~ Ryan Dobson, Author of “Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid”
Today’s Gospel (Mark 2:13-17) dovetails nicely with an expression that I know many of you are familiar with: “The Catholic Church is not a museum for saints...it is a Hospital for sinners.”
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners,” Jesus says on the heels of a conversation he overheard between a few members of the Pharisees. In addition to being known for this seminal passage, today’s Gospel tells the story of Levi, the tax collector who would decide to follow Jesus and go on to write one of the Four Gospels. He is of course better known by the name Jesus would give him: Matthew.
This passage allows us to reflect upon our role in bringing others to Christ and whether or not we are carrying it out to the best of our ability. It is of course a privilege to be ambassadors for Jesus, however it is far from easy and seldom if ever wrought without consequences.
Tomorrow’s Gospel tells of John the Baptist’s encounter with Jesus, wherein John proclaims ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he came before me.’ He had to know that a statement like that was sure to cause a stir, as would his steadfast defense of the truth, in this instance as it pertained to King Herod and his twisted, misguided and selfish desire to marry his brother’s wife. We all know how it ended for the man who made camel hair fashionable while dining on locusts and wild honey.
There are in fact many who walked the same path that John the Baptist walked. Next week alone, the church will recognize the Feast Days of three martyrs, Saint Fabian (Pope & Martyr), Saint Agnes (Virgin & Martyr) and Saint Vincent (Deacon & Martyr). What an amazing assortment of heroes and heroines. One the Vicar of Christ, achieving the highest rank of the Church. Another who served in the largely unheralded but vital role of Deacon. The other a 13 year old girl, who when told she would be forced into a pre-arranged marriage with a high-ranking Roman Soldier responded ”Christ is my spouse. He chose me first, and His I shall be. Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of faith and virtue. I belong to him whom the angels serve.”
Each of us have this unique opportunity to serve as Christ’s Ambassadors in welcoming others into the same type of dynamic and loving relationship with Jesus that many of us are blessed enough by the grace of God to already possess. Once you have it, you'll yearn and strive to enhance it. There are many ways to accomplish this, but I’m always reminded of the words of the great Saint Francis of Assisi who said “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”