Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist
Jesus’s call of Matthew, whose feast we celebrate today, should bring hope for all invited to discipleship because we are not worthy. Yet, Jesus goes and finds us because He loves us. Jesus’s call of a tax collector is similar to what God asks of Hosea, the prophet whom Jesus quotes in today’s readings: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:9-13). Hosea is a prophet about love. He wants to heal the Northern Kingdom of Israel from its ways but also loves them despite how they do not listen to him and reject him. The first episode in the book is an excellent metaphor for how God loves us. God invites him to marry a prostitute, Gomer, someone scorned and dejected in his society. Here he is, a man of God marrying and having children with someone seen as antithetical to his mission. But that is not so! Gomer and Matthew are integral to God’s vision for the world. God wants to be with those of us who need love. God wants us at our worst. We don’t have to earn God’s love because God calls us in our current state, as we are, and loves us there.
As Christians, we might have been in a state like Matthew or Gomer. But maybe we have changed our ways. But all that means is that our mission is to go out and heal the sick, not the righteous. People who don’t agree with the Church or follow Church teaching are the exact people God wants to share His Love with. How can I be merciful to those on the outskirts of society or who don’t adhere to the faith in how they live their lives? Is there anyone in particular whom God invites me to encounter today as Jesus encountered Matthew in his home?