Eucharistic Readings for Saint Matthew: 21 September: Today is Saint Matthew’s Day
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew [Levi] sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 9 – 13)
How many times have we or someone we know sat a job they didn’t like and didn’t want and never knew why they continued on. Perhaps bills, family responsibility or any number of reasons tethered them to a job they neither liked nor wanted.
In occupied Israel some unfortunate, fatherless boys were drafted into becoming tax collectors for Rome. They made their living skimming off the top. They we ostracized by the Jewish community as being in league with the enemy even though for the most part they had no choice. Many of us today are in employment that is at some level necessary for the community and our household bottom line, but not what we feel is the best use of our gifts. Jesus understands this and says “Follow Me.” While I don’t think this means quit your job I do feel that inviting Jesus into your home and heart, as Matthew did, has two outcomes.
First, you are comforted in knowing that at least Jesus sees your full potential. This could be the beginning of a new way for you to live into who God made you to be. Matthew went from being a forced tax collector to writer of the Gospel that we set as the first book in our New Testament.
Second, you will be criticized by those who weren’t helping you in the first place. Sometimes I see such criticism as validation that I am doing the right thing. Jesus was never on the side of popular opinion. Jesus also criticized the criticizers for not getting involved and showing mercy for those having to collect taxes. When he says, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.’ I don’t think they got it and sometimes I don’t think we get it either. And to our not understanding Jesus says, “Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Thank You Jesus for calling me.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people and ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John+