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The Calling of Matthew
Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
As Jesus passed on from there, 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: Lord Jesus, I ask for your grace to look beyond the superficial elements of life, to see all with your eyes, and thus respond with your heart.
- Looking Beyond: When Jesus looks at a soul, he looks beyond the prejudices of culture. He looks beyond the humanly derived political agendas or social platforms. Jesus looks beyond the surface to see the dignity of the wounded person. That implies seeing the heart of every single soul. When Jesus looked at Matthew, he saw his entire history from the moment of his splendid creation, through the messiness of life, to the present state of his soul. Jesus always calls the whole person, as they are, because he also sees beyond the present to the potential apostle awaiting nurturing.
- Follow Me: Jesus’s words were directed to Matthew personally. The call is personal. But those words spoken to one person can resonate with someone else who overhears—with astonishing consequences. The Pharisees were standing by, ready to judge Jesus’s every move. But perhaps they heard the words directed at Matthew and felt a stirring within themselves? Did they open their hearts to that resonance or put up a wall? Is not judgment a way of protecting oneself against self-examination? Judgment turns the blame elsewhere to avoid sincere interior conversion. Jesus knew these tactics and didn’t give up. Neither did he condemn. They didn’t respond to “follow me,” but perhaps they would hear his call in his next words.
- “I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice”: “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus not only looks beyond the superficial aspects of life, but calls us to act in a way that often breaks our comfortable schemes. Sacrifice is often associated with the external accomplishment of things. But mercy is exercised internally in a disposition of the heart. Mercy requires extending a profound humility and charity to someone in desperate need. Sinners need mercy, and those are the people Jesus called. Are we not among the sinners Jesus calls? To respond to this call we must not only allow our schemes to be broken and see ourselves in the light of humility, sinners as we are, but also see the sinner in others and still love them with the heart of Christ.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am a sinner in need of your mercy, especially when I fall into harsh judgments. Grant me vision to look beyond my narrow-mindedness and see the lies sown by the enemy. Help me to receive your mercy, and in turn respond to others with your merciful heart.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will recognize my harsh judgments, whether they be on myself or on others. I will seek to recognize in humility my need for your mercy—a mercy that does not condemn, but invites me to repent and follow you.
For Further Reflection: The Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer.
Written by Jennifer Ristine.
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