Sep 21 – Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
St. Matthew was the son of Alphaeus, and he lived at Capernaum on Lake Genesareth. He was a Roman tax collector, a position equated with collaboration with the enemy by those from whom he collected taxes. Jesus’ contemporaries were surprised to see the Christ with a traitor, but Jesus explained that he had come “not to call the just, but sinners”.
Matthew’s Gospel is given pride of place in the canon of the New Testament, and was written to convince Jewish readers that their anticipated Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East.
– Patron Saint Index
“It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick.”
As a tax collector, Matthew would have faced scorn and disdain for working for the hated enemy, the Romans. Despite being a sinner in the eyes of the righteous, he was chosen to follow Jesus, and would go on to become one of the great evangelists. No doubt it was Jesus who made the first move, whose mercy moved Matthew to leave everything he had to follow Him. Perhaps an overlooked aspect of today’s reading is Matthew’s obedience to trade his comfortable (and derided) life of sin, for a life with Christ — one filled with more derision and eventual martyrdom.
Most of us struggle to live out our faith in our daily lives, be it in the workplace or to those nearest and dearest to us. I find myself falling short, sometimes through thoughtless words spoken in the heat of the moment, other times by being critical of others’ shortcomings. These lapses, which happen to the best of us, are minor but insidious. We may find ourselves falling into the comfortable trap of trying to lead a ‘good enough’ life rather than to strive towards a life of holiness.
“It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick” spoke to me as I reflected on these words. It is easy to dismiss the opinions of people who hold different beliefs from us or those who make our lives difficult. We are challenged to reserve judgement, and to respect and treat them with the same dignity that Jesus accorded to sinners.
Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the Feast of St. Matthew today, let us continue to seek God every day, and to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us to do the right thing.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Eber)
Prayer: Father God, we pray for grace and courage to persevere, and to always seek to do Your will. Help us to walk by faith and to surrender to You, especially in challenging or uncertain circumstances.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for loving us first. Grant us the Holy Spirit to become more like you.