Here's the reflection and prayer I offered for our Upper School students and faculty in morning chapel at Cascia Hall today:
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. The Gospel reading from today’s Mass comes, appropriately, from the Gospel according to Matthew, and it is, appropriately, about Matthew:
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." (Mt 9:9-13)
Today’s Office of Readings includes a commentary on this passage from St. Bede the Venerable:
This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit.
Little is known with much verifiable, historical certainty about St. Matthew, but this brief reading from his own Gospel, accompanied by Venerable Bede’s commentary, makes him a powerful example for all of us. With the simple act of answering Jesus’ call, Matthew’s life immediately began reflecting the light of Christ and thus attracting other people to Christ. As Bede writes, even Matthew’s “first steps in the faith” bore fruit in building up the kingdom of God.
Let us pray.
O God, who brought to a glorious completion the work you began in St. Matthew’s first steps in the faith, help us to answer your call as boldly and swiftly as he did, that we, too, might cooperate with your grace in building up your kingdom. We ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen.
St. Matthew, pray for us!