Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."
There are few spiritual challenges more difficult than admitting, "I have sinned." Either we loudly, brazenly declare we have done nothing wrong; or we too readily, too piously aver, "I too am a sinner," without actually feeling remorse, regret or a staggering, bewildered sense of helplessness.
Lent is that season when we invite the Lord of Righteousness to reveal our sins to us because we quite frankly cannot see them in all their pustulent horror.
Ironically, it's not that difficult to see guilt in others! The Pharisees in today's gospel saw it all too clearly in the tax collectors and sinners who came to Jesus. In fact, they saw sin in Jesus too!
But they could not imagine that this rabbi from Nazareth might be the Savior of Capernaum and its religious establishment. As he called sinners to repentance they did not suppose they were among the invited. They were there to criticize the Teacher, not to receive him.
During the Last Supper, Jesus made a most terrifying declaration; it might be called totally inappropriate to a festive dinner: Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Startled, each of the disciples asked the right question, "Is it I, Lord?" but none could suppose it was himself; not even Judas Iscariot, who had already made arrangements for his treason. Given what we know of liars, it's possible that Judas, even in that moment, could still deny to himself what he was about to do.
That's because the old, traditional "examination of conscience" often fails to reveal our sins. More often, more reliably, we have to turn to our companions and friends and ask, "Have I sinned against you?"
The "me-too" moment has shown that millions of men just don't get it! Not only do we not see it in our behavior, men don't notice it in our brothers' behavior. The impact of our sexist attitudes -- "thoughts, words, and deeds" -- might appear only in the reactions of our sisters.
And then, if we're blessed, we might say, "How could I be so stupid?" How could I have done this to one I love and not even realize it?
There used to be a saying, much disputed, "There is no salvation without the Church." Despite its misinterpretations, it's still true. We need our brothers and sisters, disciples of the Lord, to help us see the full extent of our guilt and to turn back to the Lord.
He has not come to save the righteous, but sinners like you and me.