REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
September 21, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9
St. Matthew was a wealthy and “important” man in his day and age. As a tax collector, he was also disliked by many of the Jews. But he showed himself to be a good man by His immediate response to Jesus’ call.
Matthew is strikingly honest about his sinfulness. In light of his own need for mercy, Matthew presents Jesus’s own vocation through the words that the Lord speaks at the end of today’s Gospel passage: “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” God the Father called His divine Son to carry out this mission, and that Son extends here to Matthew a share in that mission.
We do not have many details to this story, but we have the details that matter. We see that Matthew is at work collecting taxes. We see that Jesus simply walks by him and calls him. And we see that Matthew immediately gets up, abandons everything, and follows Jesus. This is quite a conversion.
Have we ever wondered what were the thoughts that crossed the mind of St. Matthew as he got up from the customs house to follow Jesus? Is it the uncertainty of abandoning a stable and profitable job, although it is not a respectable one? Or is it the apprehension that from that moment on, things are not going to be the same anymore?
But over and above all these thoughts is the great up-lifting feeling that someone had given him respect, dignity and self-worth. In Jesus, St. Matthew saw the mercy and love of God, who came not to call the virtuous, but sinners. What St. Matthew saw in Jesus, he too wanted to emulate.
For most people, this sort of immediate response would not happen. Most people would have to first get to know Jesus, be convinced by Him, talk to their family and friends, think, ponder and then decide if following Jesus was a good idea. Most people go through a long rationalizing of God’s will before responding to it. Is that you?
Every day God is calling us. Every day He calls us to serve Him radically and completely in one way or another. And every day we have an opportunity to respond just as Matthew did. The key is to have two essential qualities. First, we must recognize the voice of Jesus clearly and unmistakably. We must, in faith, know what He says to us when He says it. Secondly, we must be certain that whatever Jesus calls or inspires us to do is worth it. If we can perfect these two qualities we will be in a position to imitate the quick and total response of St. Matthew.
In honoring Saint Matthew, we recall that every Christian has been called by Christ Jesus and been given gifts to assist in the work of salvation. Let us pray that we will each have the courage to respond to Christ’s invitation with the same immediacy and commitment as Matthew, who left all and followed him.
Reflect, today, upon your willingness to imitate this Apostle. What do you say and do when God calls each day? Where you see a lacking, recommit yourself to a more radical following of Christ. You will not regret it.
Lord, may I hear You speak and respond to You wholeheartedly every time. May I follow You wherever You lead. Jesus, I trust in You.