Matthew, Mercy and Missions
21 September 2022, Wednesday of the 25th Week in the Ordinary Time
Feast of St Matthew, apostle
Mt 9: 9-13
Matthew. Mercy. Missionary.
Matthew was honest. He recalled where Jesus found him; at the tax booth. He remembered what he was doing when Jesus found him; collecting taxes for Rome. He knew who he was; a public sinner. But when Jesus called him to be with Him, he got up and followed Him. He left what he was doing, his source for a living. Did Matthew make a mistake of losing everything? Could Jesus make a mistake for choosing him?
Jesus took the risk. But what made Matthew respond to Jesus’ call with urgency? When Jesus responded to the Pharisees, “I desire mercy not sacrifice”, most probably, Matthew, who was a known sinner in his own place, must have been experiencing many struggles deep within. But he never pleaded for understanding as a public sinner. He never demanded for acceptance in spite of being rejected by his own people for showing loyalty to Rome. Deep within, Matthew, longed for mercy. And mercy was given freely when he needed it most.
Jesus healed Matthew. By His mercy, Matthew was restored and received into Jesus’ company. He could have experienced being haunted by his past. But Matthew trusted in God’s merciful love. How did Matthew express His gratitude for all the good things that Jesus did to Him? In Matthew 28: 16-20, he was there among the apostles being sent by Jesus who said, “Go…make disciples…baptize…and teach…”. From being with the Lord, Matthew was sent by the Lord. As a wounded healer, his life echoes the wonders that the Lord is doing for all as we responded in every Psalm, “Their message goes out through all the earth”.
Today, we are Matthew. Like him, we beg for God’s mercy. But how do we know that we are being healed by God? Our lives as missionaries manifest that, yes, we are sinners, but are called and loved by God. As Matthew was telling us something today about how Jesus healed him, the written Gospel that is attributed to him proclaims Jesus who always accompanies us, telling us, “Emmanuel”, “I am ever with you”. Emmanuel is God’s name. And faithful to His name, the Lord is ever with us as mercy. Being and becoming missionaries is not doing great and many projects. But it is to make all of us conscious of God’s deep and penetrating merciful that accompanies us no matter who we are, what we do, whom we meet and where we go.
Yes, we are sinners, and the Lord keeps on telling us, “I am ever with you.” Yes, we can fall many times. But Jesus tells us that even if you have failed many times, “You are never a failure because I am ever with you”. In one of the rendicontos with my former rector, he asked me, “What is your favorite Bible verse?” I responded, “Mt 28: 16-20.” He said said, “I think you will become a missionary.” But I said, “As a Christian I am. But the very reason why such Gospel passage is very close to my heart is that the Lord assures me that His presence is always present as His name suggests, ‘Emmanuel’”.
St Matthew tells us today one important lesson. As God is with us as mercy, may we share God’s mercy with others as missionaries. Amen.
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