25th Wednesday in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Matthew
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Ps. 19; Matthew 9:9-13
St. Paul urges his hearers, “…to live in a manner worthy of the call”…the call we have received. The grace of this call is given according to the measure of Christ’s gift and of those gifted by Christ, the Apostles come first.
In preparing this homily for the Feast of St. Matthew I realized how little I know about this man so I went to Butler’s Lives of the Saints and learned that there is very little information about him other than the account of his call in 3 of the Gospels.
Butler’s Lives states: “Nothing is known for certain about what Matthew did after the resurrection.” But there are a number of traditions and they have him preaching in Ethiopia, Persia, Syria, Macedonia and even Ireland; if that is so, he was following Jesus mandate to teach all nations. He is venerated as a martyr, but the circumstances of his death are lost in history. In a footnote there is this interesting fact: “Artists in the later Middle Ages sometimes gave him reading glasses!” I guess they felt that counting money had affected his eyesight.
The most notable thing about Matthew, in addition to his authorship of a gospel, is his call. Jesus saw him and immediately said, “Follow me.” And just as immediately “…he got up and followed Him.” In the Greek version of this Gospel the phrase “he got up” is a verb which can mean “to rise from the dead” and “followed” has the added meaning of “to obey.” His action was a kind of resurrection and an act of radical obedience…he rose and obeyed Him.
This momentous event began his journey of faith and, surely, in this journey there would be other calls within the original one to rise and to obey – in other words, to grow and mature as a disciple of the Lord Jesus. And so it is with us. By God’s grace, we have been called – not once and done but many times because the depth, the extent of the call is the journey of a lifetime.
However and whenever these calls, these divine invitations come, like Matthew, we must decide – to get up and obey or stay seated in our complacency and disobey. The choice is ours as it was with Matthew and the other tax collectors and sinners who dined with Jesus.
Through the intercession of St. Matthew, may we recognize Christ’s voice when He calls and embrace the grace to rise and obey. Not to decide, not to choose is a decision, a rejection of God’s love, of the Lord’s personal call.