The Gospel according to Matthew (9:9-13)
As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, help me to strive to be a better follower of Yours. You never cease to call me and even when I fail, You still call for me to come close to You. May this time of reflection help me to love more like You do. Amen.
I’ve mentioned before about the online series about Jesus, “The Chosen”. It really does give an interesting perspective on the ones whom Jesus called to join Him, and whom we know as His Apostles. On this, the Feast of St Matthew, I recall those scenes from the series, which really help enlighten why it was so amazing that Jesus called a tax collector to be one of His followers. The way Matthew was portrayed, it’s not hard to see that he was not likely to be one that would be an obvious disciple or Apostle. Yet despite that fact, Jesus called Matthew and he became one of the four Gospel writers, sharing Jesus’ “good news” that we read today.
“Follow Me” are the words that Jesus said to Matthew and in other places in the Gospel, we read of Him saying those same words to the ones who would be His Apostles. The important lesson here is to see what the response was of those men who were asked to follow – they left *everything* and followed. No bargaining, no asking for more time, no excuses. One can only imagine what the families and friends of the Twelve thought of their choices!
Here’s something else to consider, too: those who left everything became totally dependent on Jesus for their very lives. All followers of Jesus are dependent on Him, of course, but those first followers literally, physically, really were fully at Jesus’ disposal. But, they weren’t perfect. They all fled from His side when He was arrested, and only John was there at the cross. Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. But, even in their imperfection, Jesus looked on them with love and entrusted the Church to them. He sent them His Holy Spirit to guide them and to remind them of all that He taught them.
It is that Church that we share in today. Our leaders are not perfect now, either. Some may say that there is too much emphasis placed on the physical trappings of the Church and not enough emphasis on helping those on the margins, as Jesus directed His disciples to do. Yet, that is the family of God that we are all a part of in our time. It would be easy to just say that the leaders should just *do something* and improve things, and share more with the poor, the outcast, the unwanted. They certainly should, but the responsibility is not theirs alone. All of us as Jesus’ followers, as members of God’s family, are called to do what we can to minister to the poor and the needy. We don’t have to do it in grand ways – in fact, we should truly not aspire to that. Probably, that’s somewhat scandalous to say, but what I mean is that we should not do good in “glorious” ways for others to see. We should do good, and know that the Lord who created us sees those actions.
Then, when our time on this earthly pilgrimage is done, our Lord will say to us what He said to the good servants in His parables: “well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Amen!
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for calling me. Thank You for loving me, even with my imperfections. Please help me serve You better by serving You in those whom You put in my path today. Amen.
Action for the Day: Do a good deed for someone without them knowing about it. Extra credit if they don’t discover the good that you did!