Greetings! On September 21, the Universal Church celebrated the feast day of St. Matthew. It is known that St. Matthew was a wealthy man and a tax collector by trade. Tax collectors were not well thought of at the time of Jesus, because they were collecting taxes for the Romans as well as a little off the top for themselves. In Matthew’s own words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he wrote, “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9)
After the calling of Matthew, he invited Jesus to his home for dinner. In addition to the disciples, there were many sinners and tax collectors at his dinner table. Seeing this, the Pharisees said to the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus upon hearing this replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:11-13)
Matthew was called by our Divine Savior to follow Him in a radical way, to give up his wealth in order to be one of His closest disciples. As for his calling St. Bede said, “Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven as his gift.” And, “This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon.”
Most people are not called to give everything up like we priests and religious, although I must admit, Jesus has given me much more than I have given up. God wants everyone to be successful in life as well as generous with their time, talent and treasure. St. Bede said it best when he said, “This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him.” By the grace of God, from the sacraments, may we all respond by following Jesus not only with our thoughts and words, but with our actions. St. Matthew, pray for us!
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus,
Fr. Christopher Kubat