Are you the next Matthew?
The calling of Matthew
Matthew 9: 9-13- As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
Anyone can easily say to themselves, “if Jesus called me, I’ll be ready to go and be his disciple.” But be honest with yourself, could you really give up everything to follow Christ? Let’s get past giving up the physical stuff like money or fame or any material things. There are many examples of men and women who have chosen poverty to serve the Lord. The hardest thing to give up is control. We can say yes, I trust in the Lord, But…. we like to feel in control of the steering wheel. I think this is the scariest thing to do. It’s human nature to want to have control of something. What you drink or eat. What you plan to do with your family, time at work, etc. Our lives today are centered on time and control. It’s become a part of life.
Allow me to break down this passage piece by piece. I want to focus on the reaction of Jesus. We know and believe he is the one sent by God the Father. We know that during this time he is going around Israel preaching the Good News and calling men to follow him. While Jesus was walking and saw this man from afar, what do you think the master’s reaction was? Did he seem disgusted with such a man? Tax collectors were not well like by the community, because they were seen collecting money for the Roman occupiers. No, Jesus already knew in his heart that Matthew felt unworthy to follow God. Jesus Christ started at this man with love and compassion. He walked toward Matthew with love and wanted to bring him into his fold. Matthew might have felt such a powerful, unexplainable person who was about to speak. I can imagine that maybe, deep in the core of his heart he knew God was about to speak. The power of Christ was about to be shown to this sinner. Jesus, spoke out and said, “Follow me”. Matthew didn’t ask Jesus, “who are you?” “why should a follow someone I don’t even know” he could have come up with one hundred and one different reasons to challenge this man. He didn’t. He got up and left his post and followed behind him.
Matthew invited Jesus into his house. Depending on what movie of this scene you may have watched in your life, you already know the Pharisees are already complaining about this. “How can this man, who calls himself a Rabbi, eat and drink with these people?” These “unworthy, nasty people”. Do you know any “Pharisees” in your life? Have you met someone who is judgmental, self-described righteous people who are better than those who are not at their level? They might even be envious, because Jesus went to eat with sinners, instead of them who are “perfect and righteous”. What does Jesus do? He hears this and rebukes them. Matthew felt so humble that this great teacher would call him, he offered Jesus the very best. He offered the best food, the best drinks, the best seat in the house. How high of an honor he showed Jesus.
Jesus said that he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to conversion. The first step is to surrender everything over to God. You really need to die to oneself, in other to be open to the word of God. We must learn to let go of the things that we fear the most. We can say verbally, “I surrender my life to you”, but if you don’t surrender with your heart, then you’re stuck. You’re unable to experience true freedom. After answering the call of the Lord, you invite Jesus into your heart and life, you are allowing fresh graces from heaven to reach your heart and be able to allow the Creator to work in you. We are all ill. It doesn’t have to be a physical illness, but a spiritual one. When we have a sickness in our souls, our bodies and mind suffer. We cannot be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and it makes it very hard to hear God calling you. The “mercy” that Christ is telling the Pharisees is the spiritual well-being of his creation. Mercy can be shown in many forms. From feeding the hungry, clothing the naked or financially helping those in need, we have daily opportunity to mimic Christ in our day to day life.
I felt this calling deeper three days ago. God has led me to this journey. Like peeling an onion, he has been peeling away all my life. More recently in 2016 until now. The Lord was pounding me with graces. After spending two days at the Blessed Sacrament, God was able to break the glass of my heart, which allowed me to truly follow him and become obedient in his call for my personal vocation. Brothers and sisters, we must no longer hold on to the things we cannot control. If we truly want to be perfect, crucify yourself to God and he will show his light upon your heart and soul. Only Through God, will his glory be realized. Allow him to use you as an instrument like St. Paul, like St. Matthew. We are all unworthy creatures, but with the graces of Christ, he can use us to spread the gospel message all over the world. For the conversion of souls and the salvation of other men. Be strong and like Matthew, answer the call and don’t look back my brothers and sisters. Don’t look back!