by Fr. Joachim Aldaba, O. Praem.
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist and so we also celebrate the name day of our frater Matthew. So please remember him in your prayers today, especially at this holy Mass.
“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.”
A calling from our Lord was very serious business. So much so that, for James and John, His call left father Zebedee stranded at sea and for today’s saint, with just two words, our Lord left the local customs post with one less employee.
Now, our Lord’s words have the power to penetrate the hardest of hearts, since He is the Incarnate Word and the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, but there is something about St. Matthew’s story that suggests that he had been longing and yearning for a career change. Matthew was a tax collector and tax collectors were not highly regarded at that time because they were Jews who worked for the Romans and were, therefore, seen as traitors to their own people. On top of that, they were seen as thieves, because they often extorted more than they should receive so that they could pocket some of the money for themselves.
So here is our Lord, walking through the streets of Capernaum with a small crowd congregating around Him as He travelled, having walked by thousands of good, qualified men who would seemingly make great followers but He doesn’t call them. Rather, He stops by at the IRS corner store to pick out Matthew. Why? Because our Lord could see passed Matthew’s career choice and saw into the young man’s heart: “for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” says the prophet Samuel.
We can imagine that the lifestyle associated with being a tax collector had taken root in the young Levi but had not fulfilled him. The high life of money and parties that he once longed for no longer interested him. No, He longed for more—for truth and for goodness. He longed for God. Then, when he heard Our Lord’s voice, those two words “follow me” touched the depths of his soul and he knew that this is what he had been longing for.
It is a mystery why Jesus called the men who He did to be His apostles: a tax collector, a Zealot, lowly fishermen, and even one who would betray Him. He was aware of who they were and what they would do, and still, He called them. Why? The reason for the call is our Lord’s love for the soul. He calls every soul to live in union with him: This is the universal call to holiness, which is at the heart of every vocation. And yet, each call of our Lord is specific to the particular soul: Jesus looks on each person with particular love and beckons them to a unique path.
God has called and continues to call each of us here today: He has called us to follow Him in our particular vocation and He continues to call us to be holy and righteous in His sight, all the days of our life. This would be a daunting task if it weren’t for our Lord accompanying us every step of the way, just as He lead His apostles.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me” and Matthew got up and was able to continually follow Him with full confidence because our Lord led the way. Likewise, Our Lord says to us “Follow me,” and we, like St. Matthew, have everything that we need to follow Him faithfully all the days of our life, through the abundance of His grace we receive on a daily basis and through His body and blood which we are about to receive at this Holy Sacrifice. Let us, then, through the intercession of the holy evangelist St. Matthew, always be ready to answer our Lord’s call and so find our joy and fulfillment in following Him faithfully. Amen.
God sometimes asks the prophets to do something that looks absurd in the eyes of men to teach a lesson about listening to and discerning God’s will.
God’s providence reaches down and governs the most ordinary details of the life of His people. Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia, became the unlikely instrument whereby God would end the Babylonian Captivity, for instance. Even the civil rulers and all the vicissitudes of history are the tools of God’s almighty hand.
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