CHOOSING THE BROKEN (Matthew 9:9-13): 08 June 2008 (Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
You can’t really blame the Pharisees in the gospel reading today. They see the Lord invite a corrupt tax collector to follow him. More than that, he dines with him and other sinners–a big “no-no” among the Jews. Like the Pharisees, we can’t help but wonder why the Lord doesn’t make better choices with regard to whom he chooses to be his follower and whom he breaks bread with.
Can’t the Lord find better people to be his instruments? Why choose people who are known to be corrupt and sinful? Can’t he find and hire better-qualified people?
If we examine the prophets and apostles that God has chosen in the bible and even in real life today, we will detect a disturbing pattern. Most of them, if not all of them, were either weak or broken. Think of David, the little shepherd boy before he became king. No army could beat Goliath, but this shepherd boy succeeded with his slingshot. Think of Mary, our Blessed Mother: Even if she was immaculately conceived—she was but a frail little twelve or thirteen year old girl when the angel appeared to her and extended to her God’s special invitation. And don’t forget Abraham, who is extolled in the Second Reading as a man of righteousness: A little known story about him–a very unflattering one–has him lying about Sarah being his wife and practically offering her to the Pharoah just to save his own skin.
What does this tell us? I think God’s recruiting preferences can tell us a lot about how God works and about who He is. Our God is a God who doesn’t seem to like using instruments that are in perfect working condition. He seems to prefer brokeninstruments.
So the question is why. Why does God prefer broken instruments? Here are two guesses.
First, maybe weak and broken people are the only ones who are humble enough to allow God to use them. They’re the only ones who can truly become God’s instrument because they know their weaknesses and brokenness, so they know they need God and they depend on God. The Gospel’s term for this is “poor in spirit.” If we want to become God’s instrument, if we want God to use us to do his work, we must become poor in spirit, humble and aware of our need for God and consequently willing to allow ourselves to be used.
Secondly, maybe God prefers to use broken instruments because when he does, it becomes quite evident that when great works are accomplished, it is primarily because of God and not because of the person’s qualifications. In other words, it becomes clear that the person is simply an instrument that allows himself or herself to be used by God. So it does not become a case of us doing God’s work, but God himself working through us. There is a difference between the two.
So here’s a Quick Question for you: Have you been using your limitations and sinfulness as an excuse not to serve the Lord? Maybe for some of us, every time the topic of serving God comes up, we say: “That’s not for me because I’m a sinner, or I’m weak, or I’m broken.” Bad news: As we have seen, God actually prefers to use broken instruments for his work.
(image: “Call of Matthew” by Caravaggio)