Two words changed the life of St. Matthew
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of St. Matthew (September 21, 2021): EPH 4:1-7,11-13; PS 19:2-3,4-5; MT 9:9-13
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
“Follow Me.” Two words changed a life. They were spoken by Jesus in the town of Capernaum as He walked past the customs post. And they were addressed to Matthew, also known as Levi, one of the tax collectors. There were few people more despised by the Jews than those who collaborated with the Roman occupiers. And men like Matthew who took the hard-earned money of the people for those who conquered their land were particularly hated, especially since they generally took even more money for themselves. But Jesus knew the heart of Matthew. And His simple invitation was met with instant agreement. We cannot know what Matthew felt, but we do know he threw a party at his house for Jesus and His disciples as well as his own friends including tax collectors and other sinners. While this shocked many, Jesus made it clear that it was sinners whom He most wanted to embrace with His mercy and His message. He did not pretend that their sins did not matter, but that He loved them and longed for them to turn from their sins and follow Him. And that is exactly what Matthew did throughout Christ’s ministry along with the other Apostles. He was rarely mentioned again in the Scriptures. However, it is believed that, in time, he preached in Ethiopia where he met a martyr’s death. And, according to tradition, St. Matthew was the author of one of the four Gospels of Jesus Christ.
In the first reading for today, St. Paul addresses those to whom he had introduced Christ and His gift of salvation: “I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call” (Ephesians 4:1-4). Surely, St. Matthew felt the same burning desire to share the Good News with others and to have them be faithful to our Savior. Both these great saints knew what it meant to turn from a troubled past to the certain hope of eternity with Christ.