But go and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
All Commentaries on Matthew 9:13 Go To Matthew 9
George Leo Haydock
I am not come. The just appear to be mentioned ironically, as it is said in Genesis, Behold Adam is become as one of us: and if I hunger, I will not tell thee. (Psalm xlix.) For St. Paul asserts, that none on earth were just: all have sinned, and need the glory of God. (Romans iii.) (St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxi.)
Christ came to call all men, both just and unjust, since he called Nathanael, who was a just man. But the meaning of these words is, I came not to call you, Scribes and Pharisees, who esteem yourselves just, and despise others, and who think you have no need of a physician; but I came to call those who acknowledge themselves sinners. (Theophylactus)
Or the meaning may be, "I came not to call the just to penance, of which they have no need "thus in St. Luke, (chap. v.) I came not to call the just, but sinners to repentance. Or again, the meaning may be, I came not to call the just, because there are none just of themselves, and who stand not in need of my coming. St. Paul says, All have sinned, as above. (Menochius)
Mercy, and not sacrifice. Christ here prefers mercy to sacrifice; for, as St. Ambrose says, there is no virtue so becoming a Christian as mercy, but chiefly mercy to the poor. For if we give money to the poor, we at the same time give him life: if we clothe the naked, we adorn our souls with the robe of justice: if we receive the poor harbourless under our roof, we shall at the same time make friends with the saints in heaven, and shall afterwards be received by them into their eternal habitations. (St. Ambrose)
I will have mercy and not sacrifice: these words occur in the prophet Osee, chap. vi. The Pharisees thought they were making a great sacrifice, and acceptable to God, by breaking off all commerce with sinners; but God prefers the mercy of the charitable physician, who frequents the company of sinners; but merely to cure them. (Bible de Vence)