“To bring people closer to God, competency and clarity are important, but they are not enough. Of themselves they do not touch hearts deeply. Personal sanctity and goodness do. It is the saints who light fires. There is a direct correlation between the beauty of holiness and the fruitfulness of our work and interpersonal relationships.” ― Fr Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer
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.”
In today's Gospel passage, we see a man who deserved to be punished. And the people (and their money) needed to be protected from him. During Roman occupation, Hebrew tax collectors made a livelihood of over-taxing their own people and keeping the change. As a successful collector, Matthew was a cheater, a liar, a traitor, and a thief. Do you know any cheaters and liars? Has anyone betrayed you? Were you ever robbed?
Jesus looked past Matthew's sins and found a place in his heart where goodness still existed. If we want to conquer evil, this is where we, too, must look. Inside everyone -- even murderers.
We cannot convert evil-doers who don't want to change, but we can certainly spread Christ's gift of peace much more widely than we have been doing.
Every act of love in the face of evil conquers evil.