A TAX-GATHERER BECOMES PEOPLE GATHERER
From a despised tax-collector, appraised no higher than a public sinner or a pagan, Matthew becomes an apostle. He is living proof that Jesus came to call sinners. And among the apostles he is one of the two who witnessed to Christ not only with their life and work but also their writing. He is with us today to strengthen our faith. He shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of the scriptures and how our communities today, like his long ago, have to put the Good News of Jesus into practice.
Lord God of mercy,
you show us today
in your apostle and evangelist Matthew
how you put the self-righteous to shame
and call sinners to the task
of bringing your Son’s good news to the world.
Forgive us our pride and reassure us
that we can count on you and your love
because we are weak and sinful people.
Let us share in your message and life
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: 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 to manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.
Responsorial PSALM 19:2–3, 4–5
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.
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.
Gospel: MATTHEW 9:9-13
As Jesus moved on, he saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and other sinners joined Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why is it that your master eats with those sinners and tax collectors?” When Jesus heard this he said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Life as Vocation
The movie ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ begins with these words (voice over) of Anna, the protagonist: “Most babies are coincidences […], products of drunken evenings and lack of birth control. They’re accidents.” Really? Compare these words with those of Yahweh: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5). The modern world suffers from the loss of the sense of vocation and the perception of life as meaningless accident. Even within the Church, we have circumscribed the sense of vocation to priests and religious, and go on lamenting about the “lack of vocations!” Every human being on earth has received a vocation and consequently a mission which is uniquely his/hers, and which no one else can substitute. On this day when we meditate on the call of Matthew, let us listen to the plea of St. Paul (first reading): “Live the vocation you have received!”
– For the Church, a community of saints and sinners, that we, the People of God and our leaders, may not condemn those who have failed, but with God give them new chances in life, we pray:
– For people who have failed and no longer believe in themselves, in God or in the community, that they may draw new hope from our compassion and understanding, we pray:
– For priests and religious, that they may keep trusting in the Lord who called them notwithstanding their human frailty; that with Christ they may care especially for the poor and the weak, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord God, merciful Father,
your Son Jesus Christ was eating
with tax collectors and sinners
because they needed him.
We bring this bread and this wine before you,
that he may sit at table with us
because we too need him.
Accept his sacrifice and ours
so that sins may be forgiven
and that we may live in your love
now and for ever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, merciful Father,
through your Son in our midst
help us to be mild and compassionate
without condemning anyone,
for you have been gentle to us.
And do not let us boast
of our human achievements,
for we owe everything
to your grace and your call
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Let these words change our attitude toward people, also toward ourselves, and make us mild and understanding to everyone, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!