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We Are Called
Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
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: Dear Lord Jesus, I come before you in prayer. I consider it both a duty and an honor to spend time with you in prayer. Increase in me the virtues of faith, hope, and love. Please open my heart and mind with your grace, so that like St. Matthew I may hear your call and respond with generosity.
- “Follow Me”: “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.” It is a mystery why Jesus called the men whom he did to be his apostles. Matthew was a tax collector, Simon was a Zealot, many were simple fishermen, and Judas would betray him. He was aware of who they were and what they would do, and still he called them. In another passage it states that Jesus “summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him” (Mark 3:13). Therefore, Jesus’s love for the soul is the reason for his call. Our Lord calls every soul to live in union with him. This is the universal call to holiness, which is at the heart of every vocation. However, Our Lord’s call is never generic. Jesus looks on each person with a particular love and beckons them to a unique path (Mark 10:21).
- Matthew Immediately Followed: When Jesus called his apostles, they immediately left everything and followed him. The apostles’ immediacy says something about the command and attraction in Jesus’s voice and demeanor, but it also says something about the apostles since not everyone responded with such generosity (Mark 10:22). They were interiorly prepared to hear the call and respond. What was it that prepared them? How did grace touch their hearts prior to their encounter with Jesus? Specific to Matthew, we can imagine that a certain fatigue and disillusionment with the lifestyle associated with being a tax collector had taken root. The high life of money and parties no longer filled him. He longed for more—for truth and for goodness. He longed for God. Then, when he heard Our Lord’s voice, a deep stirring in his spirit told him, “This is it—what you have been waiting for! Follow him!”
- “Many Tax Collectors and Sinners Came”: “While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.” Matthew may have come to despise the lifestyle he had been living, but he did not despise those with whom he had shared such a lifestyle. They had been his friends, and now he wanted to introduce them to Jesus, the rabbi who had so quickly and dramatically changed his own life. They came not only because of Matthew’s invitation, but because they had heard that Jesus was a friend of sinners and tax collectors (Matthew 11:19). Our Lord’s goodness gave them the confidence they needed to approach him. Perhaps several of them decided to follow Jesus that evening. Matthew had done so, why couldn’t they?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, I marvel at the grandeur of your patient and persistent pursuit of each soul. However, you also seem to frequently gain followers in clusters. In calling Matthew to follow you, you also reached out to his immediate circle of friends and acquaintances. You called Andrew, Peter, James, and John as a group. In calling St. Bernard of Clairvaux to the monastery, you also encouraged his brothers and several friends to join with him. May I also be so receptive to you that your grace may reach many more through me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will share with a friend something you have done to build up the Kingdom.
For Further Reflection: Read St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Written by Fr. John Bullock, LC.
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