Saint Matthew, Pray for Us
Readings: 1st: Ef 4:1-7.11-13; Ps: 18; Gos: Mt 9:9-13
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today, the Monday of the twenty-fifth week of ordinary time, the Church honors Saint Matthew, Apostle, and Evangelist. The mention of Mathew immediately reminds us of the first gospel in the New Testament.
His gospel was written in Aramaic, the language that Christ spoke. Matthew wrote to convince the Jews that Jesus is their anticipated Messiah.
According to tradition, he preached in Egypt and Ethiopia. Some legends say he lived up to ninety years old before his death.
Today’s gospel presents the account of the call and conversion of Matthew. It has parallels Luke 5:27-32 and Mark 2:13-17. These other gospels identified him as “Levi the tax collector and sinner.”
The call of Matthew was a dramatic one. It presents a picture of a sincere conversion and how suddenly one’s life can be transformed from evil to good through a simple encounter with God.
“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.”’
This sounds very simple. However, the evangelist only wants us to know that Matthew did not resist his call. Instead, he took advantage of the opportunity presented to him by Christ to transform his life and personality.
Another lesson for us in today’s gospel is that Christ was not ashamed of going to the house of Mathew to eat with him. Of course, this attracted comments and disappointments from his critics.
Christ knew the consequences of going there. However, he had a mission: “To save lost souls and sinners.” So, he did not intend to scandalize anyone. Instead, his action was in line with his mission statement.
So, today’s gospel reminds us of how inclusive and compassionate Jesus is in his ministry. It also teaches us to guard against prejudice about people. No matter how bad someone is, God can still change him.
Only one excellent and simple encounter with God is what it takes, and a sinner will become a future saint. This is because God never gives up on any of his creatures. So, we must not give up on anyone.
Saint Matthew, Pray for Us
Peace be with you all.