Wednesday 21 September 2022 – St. Matthew the Apostle – I DESIRE MERCY

25th Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Eph 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.

Gospel: 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.”

I DESIRE MERCY, NOT SACRIFICE: “Follow me” were Jesus’ words to Matthew and he got up and followed him. One might wonder what was going on in the mind of Jesus, the teacher and prophet when he came across Matthew sitting at the customs post and called him to form part of his intimate circle. Despite being aware of the implications and consequences of associating with a tax collector, Jesus even dares to have a meal with him afterwards in the company of other tax collectors and sinners. Jesus saw an apostle in Matthew, whereas his critics only saw a tax collector. For the moment, Jesus uses the occasion to explain his ministry of mercy. Christ has not chosen us because we are qualified to be called children of God. He knows us and can make us witnesses when we surrender to him.

Prayer – Lord, we are often occupied with sacrifices that we overlook mercy. Teach us today to reflect your mercy.


A CALL TO FOLLOW JESUS: In His ministry, we see Jesus associating with the sick, tax collectors and sinners. Today we see Jesus calling Mathew, a tax collector. This makes the Pharisees unhappy as they consider him a sinner and an enemy of the community. Jesus, however, knowing their thoughts, tells them that, those who are sick are the ones who need a physician. Jesus came for sinners and for the needy. In response to this invitation by Jesus, Mathew leaves all and follows his new Master. He leaves his past life. Jesus is calling us, each and every moment, to leave our past sinful life and renew ourselves. What is holding us back from following Jesus? Let us listen to His call.


LOVE HEALS AND TRANSFORMS: For Jews, Mathew was an outcast, because he was a traitor. He collaborated with the occupying Roman army and collected excessive taxes. Therefore, he was ostracized socially, and still worse, spiritually. But, Jesus with love called him to be with Him. No amount of sermonizing and isolation can heal the sick or convert the sinner. Only patient and understanding love can do it. To show His love for them, Jesus ate with the sinners and the outcasts. To restore them to health, dignity and self-worth the sick, he was in their company. His mission is to heal and to save. His mission is integral liberation and holistic salvation. A friendly meal creates and celebrates solidarity, friendship and fellowship. The Eucharist is a foretaste of the joyous heavenly banquet. Do you feel that you have been loved by our Lord Jesus? Does His love transform you into His likeness? Do you have a great desire to receive Him in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?


GOD’S DESIRE: Jesus says two things: “I desire mercy,” and, “I have come not to call the righteous but sinners.” In the calling of Matthew, he acts on those words. We see a powerful manifestation of this desire for mercy in his calling the despised tax collector Matthew to be his disciple and apostle. Christ indeed came to call not the just but the morally sick to repentance. As soon as Matthew is called, he begins to bring his friends to receive that same gift from Jesus. He is an example of good soil who receives the gift of the Lord’s mercy. The Pharisees, on the other hand, have hardened soil. St. Paul in today’s first reading urges us to live in a manner worthy of the calling we have received and to come to full maturity in Christ. Two things that can happen when we live in a manner worthy of God’s mercy are first to receive and share the Good News, and second to mature and become as merciful as our Father is merciful. He, the Divine Physician, wants to heal us with his medicine and send us out as his nurses.