“And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.” (Matthew 9:10)
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus is at table in the home of Matthew the tax collector. They asked Jesus’ disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” In response, Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick.”
In other words, by eating and drinking with those who were considered as sinners, Jesus was literally leaving the ninety-nine in search of the one lost sheep. Jesus was willing to risk his reputation and associate with “sinners” like a doctor who risks his life to care for sick in quarantine.
As we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew today, we not only reflect on lessons to be learnt from the manner of his call, we also reflect on the fact that God has called each of us as well through the various gifts and talents he bestowed upon us. This is what St. Paul teaches us in today’s first reading. No human being is without special gifts. No human being is useless as far as the building up of the body of Christ is concerned.
According to the Catholic Online website, little is known about St. Matthew, except that he was the son of Alpheus, and he was likely born in Galilee. Matthew was working at a collection booth in Capernaum when Christ came to him and asked, “Follow me.”
With this simple call, Matthew became a disciple of Christ. The Gospel account of Matthew tells the same story as that found in the other three Gospels, so scholars are certain of its authenticity. His book is the first of the four Gospels in the New Testament.
It is thought he departed for other lands to escape persecution sometime after 42 AD. According to various legends, he fled to Parthia and Persia, or Ethiopia. Nothing is recorded of Matthew’s passing. We do not know how he died if his death was natural or if he was martyred. Matthew was a tax collector and is, therefore, the patron saint of bankers. The Church established St. Matthew’s feast day as September 21.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my heart to creative ways of spreading the Good News to others. Amen.
Bible Study: Ephesians 4:1-13, Psalm 19:2-5 and Matthew 9:9-13).