Memory of the apostles

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Feast of Saint Matthew, apostle and evangelist.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 9,9-13

As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him. Now while he was at table in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When he heard this he replied, 'It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today the Church celebrates Matthew, apostle and evangelist. The first of the four Gospels carries his name: Matthew. He was a tax collector, a job that was considered dishonourable by the Jewish people because he collected taxes for the dominant roman power. While Jesus was walking by in Capernaum, he saw Matthew, and, instead of passing by spitefully like everyone else, he stopped and called him: "Follow me." This word was enough, but in fact it was full of power, and Matthew "got up and followed him." Pope Francis has chosen as his motto a phrase that a Father of the Church, Bede the Venerable, used to describe the strength of this call: "Miserando atque eligendo," "looking with mercy he chose him." That call was the fruit of mercy. From that moment on, Matthew did not sit by the side of the road collecting taxes; he became a disciple and gathered sinners to celebrate around Jesus. The world does not understand - the pharisees' reaction is harsh - what is happening, but this is the innovation of the Gospel that is disconcerting to the majority of people: everyone's heart, with no exceptions, can be touched and everyone can change his or her life, especially sinners. Jesus respond to the objections posed to the disciples: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." And recalling Hosea, he adds: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." With the Gospel that bears his name, Matthew continues to remind us of the primacy of the Word of God in our life. Let us listen to it, as Matthew did and the other disciples in every time, and let us begin to follow Jesus too to participate in the realization of the kingdom of God from now on in our cities.