Thursday 21 September 2017

Bible Book:

“For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (v. 13)

Matthew 9:9-13 Thursday 21 September 2017

Psalm: Psalm 119:65-72


Today the Church celebrates the life of the Apostle andEvangelist Matthew.

We have to notice as we read the calling of Matthew just howunlikely a candidate a tax collector made as a future saint of theChurch. Tax collectors are never that popular, though weacknowledge the justice and rightness of taxation in creating acivilised and caring society. But in Jesus' time a tax collectorwas not just unpopular because they lightened the purses of thegood citizens of the country. To be a Tax Collector was to own afranchise to collect money from a conquered people. It was thus tobe tempted constantly by greed and dishonesty, as well as sidingwith the enemy in a traitorous way. Matthew worked for the Romansagainst his own people and his only way of making the franchisework was to skim off money from the total. However, this wasn't theworst of his problems. Taxes had to be paid in Roman money, andthat meant a coin with the head of Caesar who claimed a level ofdivinity. Roman coins were solidly against the Jewish faith: 'otherGods', 'graven images', it couldn't get much worse.

Matthew was an unlikely candidate for a Jewish teacher to chooseas his follower, but that is exactly what happens. It is atestimony to the way that Jesus doesn't see labels but peoplethemselves. They are not 'tax collectors', or 'unclean', or 'demonpossessed', Roman soldiers or whatever other label that might thatbe used. Jesus sees in Matthew a disciple, and calls him andMatthew follows. Feast days that invite us to remember the heroesand heroines of the Church are not about how wonderful people werein the past; rather they are about how ordinary people becomeextraordinary as they respond to God's gracious call.

To Ponder

  • Today is the feast day of St Matthew. What other saints do yourecall today from your own experience?
  • As you reflect on your 'ordinariness', can you also hear God'scall to become extraordinary? How might that call work out in yourlife?
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