The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 13th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 9:9-13.

Following His declaration of the New Covenant in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ completes a series of  10 miracles (Matt 8-9) that reveal His Divinity. Continuing to recruit the 12 men who will lead the earthly effort to build the Catholic Church after the Ascension, Christ calls Matthew to be a Apostle and rebukes the harsh lack of mercy of 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 He passes by Matthew the tax collector, Christ calls him to “Follow me.” Hearing, Matthew gets up, remarkably leaves everything and follows Jesus. Later, Matthew holds a feast in his home to honor Christ and invites many tax collectors and other sinners.

The Pharisees, perhaps afraid to challenge Christ directly, go to the disciples and seek to denigrate Christ by accusing Him of eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” As always, Christ 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, Christ 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, Christ 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 ChristSon of God, Christ 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, Christ has exceptional charisma and power that convinces men to leave everything behind to follow Him. Divine Prophet, Christ inspired and has perfect knowledge of all Scripture. Divine Mercy, Christ makes mercy paramount.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  Divine Genius, Christ 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) In stark contrast to Christ’s mission to unify His children, the modern culture dividing into warring tribes (ideological, political, economic, national, ethnic, race, sex) which viciously condemn and insult their enemies; men are becoming like the entrenched, judgmental and hypocritical Pharisees. Reflect on  Mercy (CCC 1846-1848, 1864, 2091, 2840, 1473, 2447) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in merciful love of all people and to reject tribalism.

3) Christ’s own sacrifice (Latin: “to do a sacred/holy act”) on the Cross and His exhortation for His disciples to “pick up their cross” (Matt 16:24) confirms that Christ very much demands that men sacrifice. Review the Catechism’s teaching on the need for men to Sacrifice (CCC 901, 2099-2100) and pray for Christ to give you the fortitude to offer daily sacrifices to Him.

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