Newsletter Subscribe
Australian Catholics Subscribe

Bible reflection: 'And he got up and followed him'

Staff  |  18 September 2019

Gospel for Saturday, 21 September
Matthew 9:9-13
‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick’

As Jesus was walking on, he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’


  • Who are the Pharisees?
  • Why are they so concerned that Jesus is eating with tax collectors? In today’s world, even though no one is a fan of paying tax, being a tax collector is a reasonably respectable occupation. What was different in Jesus’ time?
  • What does Jesus mean when he says he comes to call sinners?
  • Do you find comfort in those words? Why?

Reflection from

St Matthew
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13. Psalm 18(19):2-5. Matthew 9:9-13.
Their message goes out through all the earth – Psalm 18(19):2-5

‘And he got up and followed him’

One cannot help liking St Matthew. He answers Jesus’ call so promptly and so wholeheartedly. He invites Jesus to celebrate his conversion with a party, to which he invites his shady, tax-collector friends: all of them, like Matthew, despised as the hirelings of an occupying power.

Jesus makes the gathering an occasion to remind us that we are not in a position to condemn anyone, for we too are sinners. We too sometimes fail in our attentiveness to God, and this realisation encourages us to a certain humility.

In his Gospel, Matthew reminds us that we also are called to bring God’s love to others. St Paul puts it this way: ‘Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience.’ Lord Jesus, give me that grace that you gave Matthew, that of responding promptly to your call, and to embodying your spirit of love and service.

Image: Gospel Book, Evangelist portrait of St. Matthew, Walters Manuscript. Wikimedia



Request permissions to reuse this article

Interested in more? Sign up to our weekly Catholic Teacher and Parish Life e-newsletters for the faith formation resources you need.

Catholic Teacher sign-up

Parish Life sign-up

This website uses cookies to give you the best, most relevant experience.

Using this website means you are okay with this.

You can change your cookies settings at any time and find out more about them by following this link