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.”
Today the Church remembers St. Matthew. As a tax collector, he was looked down upon by many of his fellow Jews because he collected taxes for the Romans. Tax collectors were also suspected of keeping some of the tax money for themselves.
I think that is why Jesus chose Matthew. Jesus came to turn the world upside. He came to show that His mercy had no limits. Even the tax collector could be redeemed. More than redeemed; he could be a chosen apostle to share the Good News with the world. Jesus called great sinners like Matthew and the woman caught in adultery and made them great ambassadors through His mercy and love.
Jesus also looked for people with passion. Matthew had a lot of passion, but it was misguided in the area of collecting taxes. Jesus invited Matthew to put his passion into following the Lord and he did amazing things. Jesus wants to use our passions and talents to do great things for God the Father.
Jesus calls me and you as well, sinners though we are, to be His disciples (followers) and apostles (ones who are sent). You may say, “Not me. I’m such a great sinner.” Matthew might have thought the same thing. But look what happened to him through the Lord’s mercy and grace. Jesus wants to work miracles in your life as well. He calls sinners to change their ways and then share this mercy with others.
Often a young man who feels calls to the priesthood is hesitant because they do not feel worthy. No one is truly worthy to be called by Christ. However, there is a saying that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called.
Have I experienced the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ? If so, have I shared that with others or have I held it in? Am I afraid of the cost to follow Jesus with my whole life? Are my energies and passions directed toward building up God’s kingdom?
Matthew dropped everything and followed Jesus. Thank God he did… What is keeping you from following the Lord with your whole heart, mind and soul?