Following His declaration of the New Covenant in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus completes a series of miracles (Matt 8-9) that reveal His Divinity. In todays’ reading, Jesus calls Matthew to be a disciple and rebukes the Pharisees.

Jewish tax collectors were despised by Jews as sinners for over-collecting and for collaboration with the occupying Romans. Despite the profound stigma, as Jesus passes by Matthew the tax collector, Jesus calls him to “Follow me.” Hearing, Matthew gets up, leaves everything and follows Jesus. Later, Jesus invites Matthew to dine (likely at Peter’s home) with many tax collectors and other sinners.

The Pharisees, perhaps afraid to challenge Jesus directly, go to the disciples and seek to denigrate Jesus by accusing Him of eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” As always, Jesus is aware of the schemes of men. He rebukes the Pharisees, recalling Hosea’s rebuke of the corrupt Israelites 750 years earlier (“I desire mercy, not sacrifice”). Particularly stinging, Jesus directs the Pharisees, proud in their adherence to Scripture, to go and learn the true meaning of Scripture.  Driving home the rebuke with a powerful assertion of His authority, Jesus closes with the memorable, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Of note: Matthew went on to write the Gospel of Matthew. He was martyred while offering Mass by the King of Ethiopia; Matthew had rebuked the King’s lustful pursuit of his own niece (who was a nun!).

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has the ability to instantly size up a man and assess a man’s fitness for discipleship; He creatively and boldly goes against stereotypes of piety to choose His leaders. Son of Man and Divine King, Jesus has exceptional charisma and power that convinces men to leave everything behind to follow Him. Divine Prophet, Jesus inspired and has perfect knowledge of all Scripture. Divine Mercy, Jesus makes mercy paramount.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  Divine Genius, Jesus selects Matthew, a shady tax collector, recognizing both Matthew’s inner spiritual hunger and brilliant recording-keeping skills that Matthew uses to write the Gospel of Matthew. Reflect on Christ’s excellent decision to call Matthew.

2) Christ’s calling of His disciples creates an instantaneous and lasting commitment to leave everything and to follow Him. Pray for Christ to give you the faith to sacrifice all for Him.

3) Men’s affinity for Truth and desire for Justice can sometimes lead them to forget Mercy.  Examine your own soul, recalling your many sins, to remind you of your own need for God’s Mercy; be merciful to others today.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries