Feast of Saint Matthew

Readings for Monday September 21, 2009

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

First Reading: Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13

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.” (Matt. 9:9-13)

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Matthew, that lowly tax collector who immediately left everything at the calling of Jesus. After Jesus asked Matthew to follow Him, He went and dined at Matthew's house with other tax collectors and sinners and created further scandal among the religious leaders of the time. Upon their judgement and questioning, Jesus answers His critics by telling them that He is there for those who are are in need of His mercy. He tells them; "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

I wonder if before this time, Matthew had always questioned his purpose in life. I am sure that deep down he realized that he had a higher calling, rather than a tax collector. I imagine at the moment Jesus called him, he began to feel his purpose come alive. Saint Matthew was one of the apostles and author of one of the gospels. After the death of Jesus, Matthew stayed in Palestine preaching the good news to his fellow Jews until he was martyred. Saint Matthew truly did follow Jesus until the very end.

Saint Matthew shows us all that we each have a purpose in life. As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians; "And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." (Eph 4:11-12). Each of us has a purpose in life, and while we may not feel like we are living it out now, we must be patient in God's plan. We should be praying for wisdom and for guidance in how we are called to live out this life. We must remember that each of us has a different purpose, no one is called to the same things. God made each of us unique and different so that we could fulfill different tasks. As Saint Paul says, we are all called to different things and we would do well to ask God to reveal where it is that He is leading us.

While we are all called to different works, means, and vocations; each of us had a similar goal ... to build up the body of Christ. May God bless us each in our work here on earth.

Saint Matthew, pray for us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so good and merciful to us, much more than we deserve. Lord, help us poor sinners to surrender all that we have and to follow you without reserve. Lord, you held nothing back for us, may we not hold anything back from you. Lord, we pray that you will continue to guide us in this life and to help reveal our purpose to us. May we stay strong in the faith and to follow you no matter where it leads. Lord, we pray for all of our priests and religious; may they be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. Amen.

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