- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for September 21, 2022 – The Feast of St. Matthew

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

The Feast of St. Matthew

(Ephesians 4: 1 – 7, 11 – 13; Ps 19; Matthew 9: 9 – 13)

The Pharisees were ever on the watch, always lurking around and following Jesus wherever He went. Their question: “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” is full of disdain – notice the pronoun “your” teacher – never “ours”. Their question vibrates with self righteousness – we do not rub shoulders with this rabble let alone eat with them, we are above them and you need to know this.

Close by Jesus surely heard but it did not in any way keep Him from being the Teacher – always proclaiming the truth, always revealing something of the divinity He shares with the Father in the Spirit – His divine freedom is never violated by anyone, no matter how great the disdain.

Because Jesus is love, mercy incarnate, He reached out to these Pharisees and tried to teach them: “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.” .

How contrary their words, actions are to what we know of Matthew the tax collector! Offered the truth and faced with grace Incarnate the Pharisees defended themselves; whereas faced with the same grace Incarnate and hearing “Follow Me” – his response was instantaneous – “…he got up and followed Him.”

Jesus has never ceased calling, the poor, the needy, he sinner – in this Holy Eucharist He welcomes us with passion, in a mercy beyond measure to participate in His eternal act of Redemption – giving us what we most need – His very self in the Holy Eucharist.

In our very imperfect humanity – sometimes given to self righteousness – we are embraced in mercy, forgiven with compassion, held as His very own. We pray that we may never defend ourselves against His grace Incarnate and that we will “live in a manner worthy of the call” we have received, are receiving in the Holy Encounter at this moment.