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.
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They are here in a twofold error; first, they esteemed themselves righteous, though in their pride they had departed far from righteousness; secondly, they charged with unrighteousness those who by recovering themselves from sin weredrawing near to righteousness.
He calls Himself a physician, because by a wonderful kind of medicine He was "wounded for our iniquities” that He might heal the wound of our sin. By “the whole,” He means those who “seeking to establish their own righteousness havenot submitted to the true righteousness of God.” By “the sick,” Hemeans those who, tied by the consciousness of their frailty, and seeing that they are not justified by the Law, submit themselves in penitence to the grace of God.
He therefore warns them, that by deeds of mercy they should seek for themselves the rewards of the mercy that is above, and, not overlooking the necessities of the poor, trust to please God by offering sacrifice. Wherefore, He says, “Go; "that is, from the rashness of foolish fault-finding to a more careful meditation of Holy Scripture, which highly commends mercy, and proposes to themas a guide His own example of mercy, saying, “I came not to call the righteous but sinners.”.
In the call of Matthew and the Publicans is figured the faith of the Gentiles who first gaped after the gain of the world, and are now spiritually refreshed by the Lord; in the pride of the Pharisees, the jealousy of the Jews at the salvation of the Gentiles. Or, Matthew signifies the man intent on temporal gain; Jesus sees him, when He looks on him with the eyes of mercy. For Matthewis interpreted ‘given,’ Levi ‘taken,’ the penitent is taken out of the mass of the perishing, and by God’s grace given to the Church. “And Jesus saith unto him, Follow me,” either by preaching, or by the admonition of Scripture, or by internal illumination.