Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice. I Did Not Come To Call The Righteous, But Sinners.

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist
Reading I
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner
worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace:
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called
to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ's gift.
And he gave some as Apostles,
others as prophets, others as evangelists,
others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God,
to mature manhood,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ.
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Responsorial
Psalm 19
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
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Gospel
Matthew 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.
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Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the "tax farmers" got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as "publicans," were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with "sinners" (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that "many" tax collectors and "those known as sinners" came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus' answer was, "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" (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

From such an unlikely situation, Jesus chose one of the foundations of the Church, a man others, judging from his job, thought was not holy enough for the position. But he was honest enough to admit that he was one of the sinners Jesus came to call. He was open enough to recognize truth when he saw him. "And he got up and followed him" (Matthew 9:9b).

We imagine Matthew, after the terrible events surrounding the death of Jesus, going to the mountain to which the risen Lord had summoned them. "When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them [we think of him looking at each one in turn, Matthew listening and excited with the rest], 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:17-20).

Matthew would never forget that day. He proclaimed the Good News by his life and by his word. Our faith rests upon his witness and that of his fellow apostles.

Saint of the Day
AmericanCatholic.org

5 comments:

Sarah in the tent said...

I like the way Matthew did not just cut himself off from his old sinful friends. He introduced them to Jesus too. He wants everyone, including sinners and gentiles, to have the chance of becoming a disciple.

Anonymous said...

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.


Jesus himself, admits/clarifies/reveals (call it what you will) that there are in fact, righteous people. Imagine the relationship those people had with their God…totally at peace, living with the faith, hope and love, that didn’t cry out for the attention Jesus insisted on giving to the sinners. Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist come to mind, as well as many from the Old Testament. In our day and days gone by, included too, are those special people declared by the Church, to be truly, Saints of God. And then, there are the people whose lives of faith, hope and love are lived in obscurity to most of the world.

Freedom.

Angelina Bong said...

'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age'"

I saw this three time in a row in the past few days..the verse kept coming to me in the most random manner..may i ask if it's possible to explain what it might mean to a lay person (baptizing, etc)besides being an exemplary christian?

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

Angelina, you ask what the commission of Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 means to a lay person. One answer to your question is that a lay person can administer the Sacrament of Baptism in an emergency situation, in the absence of a priest or deacon. But the most frequent exercise of the disciples' commission is that we have all received, in Baptism, in Confirmation,in actual grace, all of which are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that help us in everyday situations.

Angelina Bong said...

Thank you. Most appreciated.