And it came to pass, as Jesus sat to eat in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
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Now the tax collectors came together because they were of the same trade as Matthew was. For he took pride in the visit of the Messiah and invited them all together. The Messiah applied every form of healing. Not only while he was engaging in a formal discussion or healing or refuting his enemies, but even at breakfast he used to restore persons who were in bad condition. By means of these practices he taught us that every moment and every action can offer benefit to us.Certainly the dishes Matthew set before him at that time had come from unrighteousness and covetousness. But Christ did not ask to be excused from participating in them, because the gain to be derived from it was going to be great. Rather, he shared the same roof and the same table with people who had erred in their manner of acquiring such things. For such is the nature of the physician. If he did not put up with the decay of the persons who are sick, he would not set them free from their sickness. Certainly Jesus got a bad reputation from this action, by eating with Matthew, by eating in his house and by eating with many tax collectors. This is why you see them criticizing him with this: “Behold a man who is gluttonous and drinks a lot of wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” The Gospel of Matthew, Homily