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The call of Matthew

Gospel reading: Mt 9:9-13
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. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

He saw a man named Matthew
Scriptures abound with stories of persons encountered and called by God while they are going about their daily work. Moses was called by God through the burning bush while he was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro (cf Ex 3:1-2). God indicated to Samuel his election of David as king while the boy was out tending the sheep (cf 1 Sm 16:11-13). Through the prophet Elijah, God called Elisha while he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen (cf 1 Kgs 19:19).

God called Amos to be a prophet while he was working as a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores (cf Am 7:14).

Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James, and John while they were occupied as typical Galilean fisherman (cf Mt 4:18-22).

In the Gospel, he calls Matthew who is sitting at the customs post in his work as a tax collector. God needs not idealists or idlers but “laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2).

Pope Francis finds a personal resonance in the call of Matthew. He shares: “Passing by the tax collector’s booth, Jesus looked intently at Matthew. It was a look full of mercy that forgave the sins of that man, a sinner and a tax collector, whom Jesus chose – against the hesitation of the disciples – to become one of the Twelve. Saint Bede the Venerable, commenting on this Gospel passage, wrote that Jesus looked upon Matthew with merciful love and chose him:

miserando atque eligendo. This expression impressed me so much that I chose it for my episcopal motto.”

“The Church is made up not of people who are better than the rest, but of people who want to become better than they are” (Anonymous).

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