Friday, September 21, 2007

God CHOSE the foolish of the world to shame the wise. - Feast of St. Matthew

Feast of St. Matthew - Apostle & Evangelist.
Eph. 4:1-7, 11-13 / Ps.18(19) :2-5 / Mt. 9:9-13

Today is not my
feast day but after going through the readings of the day, I would like to celebrate it as my feast day, for I can identify with St. Matthew very well. He was a tax collector and was despised very much by the Jews especially the Pharisee for his collaboration with the Romans and for his unjust exactions. But Jesus loved him and saw that He could make ‘the reject’ of society into ‘accepted’ in God’s eye. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone” (Ps.118:22 - i believe this text does not only tells us of Christ, but also, all of us who follows him). The meaning for the name Matthew is ‘gift of Yahweh’.

When I reflect back on my own vocation story, I too feel unworthy of this call. I always ask God, why is He calling me? I am a sinner, what can He do with me? Looking back at my old life, now I can see a lot of good changes in me, and so, yes, it is possible with God. I still have a lot to change and I know I have to be open to God’s Spirit to be continued to be moulded according to God’s will.

I get very angry when I hear people making judgements on who has a calling and who hasn’t without giving them opportunity and chances to journey or try the specific way of life in which they feel they are called to. The Gospel shows us that if we do that we are like the Pharisee. Are we? Do we give opportunities or be a stumbling block? We forget that we are accountable for the conclusions we make on another. It is sad to hear when priest and even seminarians be an obstacle to new vocations by making all sorts of judgements and opinions on another without giving them just opportunities and chances. These priest and seminarians seemed to forget their call story. St. Paul in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians (1:26-29) reminds us priest and seminarians to; “Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God”.

After the call story of Matthew, we find Jesus at dinner with the tax collectors and sinners. Through the Gospel of Luke 5:29 we know that it was Matthew who hosted the dinner as a token of appreciation and gratitude for being chosen to be one of the close companion of Jesus. This I believe is very human, as all of us too will throw a party when we have a reason to celebrate. In the New Testament we find stories such as these, for an example the lost sheep, the lost drachma and the lost son. In all of these stories we notice that there is a reason to celebrate and rejoice and a party thrown, after the sheep, drachma and the son was ‘found’. As for Matthew his reason is that he has ‘left everything’ and now he is ‘taking on a new life’, he has found a ‘treasure’. As a priest in the future, I too will be throwing a party, and it will be filled with ‘tax collectors and sinners’. Yes, the dinner is the Eucharistic Celebration; a feast of heaven and earth where saints and sinners are friends.

Dear friends, Jesus’ willingness to accept such a person as a disciple prepared the way for the acceptance of all kinds of people into the Church. So rightfully today is everybody’s feast day. All of us are called and St. Paul in today’s 1st reading reminds us to lead a life worthy of our vocation. He says that each one of us has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it.

So let us pray that we live the life worthy of our calling and not be obstacle or a stumbling block to others and instead be a stepping stone for others to experience Jesus and to follow Him.