Extend your mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His Mercy from us? --Saint Vincent de Paul
Gospel Text: (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.”
Each person has gifts. Each person receives the grace necessary to use those gifts. Let us be glad that St Matthew used his.
It did not start out that way. Matthew was a tax collector, a dreaded collaborator with the occupying Roman army. But Jesus called him and Matthew followed. Matthew was sick, a sinner, and needed a physician. Jesus had the necessary medicine: mercy. I am glad that Jesus did not listen to the Pharisees who were too pure to reach out to Matthew. The Church, the world, would be worse off for it. I am reminded of Matthew every time I meet someone who is obviously not interested in the saving power of Jesus Christ. I can always tell this by how they live. Then Matthew comes to mind, my Pharisaical attitude gets rebuked, and I think, “There may be the next great evangelist in the Church of Jesus Christ.”
“Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” That is not an easy lesson to learn.
St. Matthew, pray for us.