Owning It: Weekly Message for 09-28-2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

Author’s note: It’s September 28th, 2021. Talking about owning it: I thought I was scheduled to write something for September 21st, which is why I wrote about St. Matthew. Thankfully every day is a good day to meditate on the saints. God bless.

Last week we celebrated the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist, former tax collector, and former sinner. The other Evangelists, in their accounts of Matthew’s call to follow Jesus, call him “Levi,” and some commentators believe this was because of the stigma attached to his tax collector past, a past that would have been evoked by referring to him as “Matthew.” St. Matthew had no qualms about owning up to his past, a reminder that we shouldn’t either and he used “Matthew” in his gospel, believed to be the first (although some think the first gospel was Mark’s). St. Matthew’s life took a radical turn from being a tax collector, considered a traitor by his people, to a witness of the life of Jesus. We’re all sinners who have been redeemed and called by Christ to follow him. 

St. Matthew tells the story of his call and conversion in his gospel. It comes straight from the apostle’s mouth. All the Evangelists agree that St. Matthew left everything behind without hesitation to follow Jesus, leaving his coins and coffers behind without a second thought. Then he threw a big dinner at his house to introduce Jesus to his friends, “tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:10-13).

When Our Lord tells the Pharisees today who were critical of his dinner company that he was sent to sinners, Matthew’s words in his gospel, recalling that moment, came straight from the heart. Our Lord came to save the world, not condemn it, and we see this in the story of St. Matthew’s calling and in St. Matthew’s desire after meeting Our Lord to have his friends know him as well. He knows he doesn’t need to impress Our Lord by only introducing him to squeaky clean people; he himself didn’t fit that category. The disciples learned this lesson too, eating alongside tax collectors and sinners, all accompanied by Our Lord. As Our Lord said on that occasion, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The Lord wants to be merciful, but we must own up to our sins and our past wrongs, big or small, for him to forgive us and walk with us. We must also never forget that our struggle with sin continues throughout life. Humbly recognizing our sinful past, and our struggles with sin, sets us apart from the self-righteous Pharisees. We must never forget that the Lord called us as sinners and wants to lead us to the righteousness that only he can give.

May the Lord continue walking with you and lead you from sin to the righteousness he offers: true, unpretentious holiness.

Father Nikola Derpich, L.C.
Maximizing the Mass

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