Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast day of one of the faithful followers of Christ, one of the Twelve Apostles and one of the Four Evangelists, that is St. Matthew, the writer of today’s Gospel passage. He was once a tax collector at the employ of the Roman authorities, tasked to collect the regular taxes from the people of Judea, as Levi, the tax collector.
But the Lord called Levi to a better and higher purpose in life, leaving behind his work as a tax collector, and followed Him for the rest of his life. He was thus called to the life of a disciple and servant of God, leaving behind his past profession. And in the Gospel passage today we can see clearly the kind of prejudice which the society at that time placed on people like tax collectors, especially that which was shown by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.
The tax collectors at that time were seen as traitors to the nation and the people of Israel, as they were seen as collaborators to the Romans who ruled over Judea. The imposition and payment of taxes were the concrete symbols of Roman authority and dominance over the people, which was resented by the Jewish people and their authorities, many of whom desiring for the freedom and independence from the Romans.
But the Lord looked beyond these biases and prejudices, and called one of His closest assistants and followers from among the ranks of the tax collectors. In fact, if we scrutinise the event more closely, we should see just how the tax collectors, as well as prostitutes, another group often reviled by the society at that time, were actually willing to listen to the Lord and turn themselves over a new leaf, welcoming the Lord into their midst and listening to Him.
This is what the Lord has given to all those who were willing to listen to Him and to turn themselves to Him and trust in His providence and love. He gave them the gift of faith, the encouragement of hope and the wonders of love. He gave them the strength and courage to become His disciples and witnesses among the nations, which they ought to accept by willingly allowing the Lord to perform His works through them.
And by God’s grace and the wisdom which He imparted to St. Matthew, we now have the Gospel of St. Matthew, as one of the four Holy Gospels through which all of us Christians, many years after the actual events surrounding the life and works of Our Lord during His years walking on earth, can have an accurate and true account of what actually happened all those years ago, revealing to us God’s truth through His own words.
St. Matthew himself was also extensively involved in the field of evangelisation beyond his writing of the Holy Gospels, helping to spread the faith and establish the Church in various places, and it was told that according to the tradition of the Church, he died as a martyr like most of the other Apostles of Christ. His examples and dedication remains tangible to this day, in the flourishing and survival of the faith.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to follow in the footsteps of St. Matthew the Apostle, in his acceptance of what the Lord has called him to do, in his commitment to the calling of Apostleship and service. Are we able to respond positively and with commitment, when the Lord calls us, “Follow Me!”? Or are we going to find excuses and reasons for us not to answer to His call?
To each and every one of us, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle today, has been given various gifts and talents, as given by God. But are we making use of these gifts and talents as the Lord has taught us to do? St. Paul mentioned that we are called to different callings in life, to be Apostles, to be teachers, to be evangelisers, pastors, servants of God, and many more, but ultimately, all of us are called to work for the greater glory of God.
Therefore, in our various vocations in life, in our different capacities and areas of responsibility, be it as priests, ordained persons, or as the laity, as married couples and families, as those who have contributed to the Church in one way or another, let us continue to devote ourselves, our time, effort and attention, that we may do ever greater works, for the greater glory of God, and for the advancements of the good works of the Church, for the salvation of mankind.
May God be with us all, and may He continue to guide us in our way, that as we continue living in this world today, we may embrace the Lord’s call with confidence when He calls on us, just as St. Matthew had done with faith. Let us all turn towards Him with courage and hope, with zeal and determination, every single days of our life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.