After returning to Capernaum from a preaching mission in Galilee, Christ’s reputation continues to grow, drawing multitudes of people. Going out from the town of Capernaum to a spot along the Sea of Galilee, Christ teaches a large crowd. As the day draws to a close, Christ sees and calls Levi (also called Matthew), a tax collector.

Jewish tax collectors were despised by Jews as sinners for over-collecting, their contact with the “unclean” Gentiles 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 (a secure source of income) and follows Jesus. Later, Jesus invites Matthew to dine (likely at Peter’s home) with many tax collectors and other sinners. Table fellowship was a sign of personal acceptance and friendship and Christ’s decision to dine with a tax collectors violated the Pharisees’ (meaning, separated ones) strict refusal to mix with “sinners.”

The scribes of the Pharisees, perhaps afraid to challenge Jesus directly, complain 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, responds by mysteriously revealing His merciful ability as a “Physician” to heal the “sick”; this is a a powerful assertion of His authority to forgive sins, for He comes “not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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, Jesus inspired and has perfect knowledge of all Scripture. Divine Mercy, Jesus makes mercy paramount. Divine Physician, Christ has the authority and power to forgive sinners.

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) Christ comes to call all sinners to repent and be forgiven of their sins (CCC 977-987), so they may enter into the eternal fellowship of the Kingdom (CCC 545).  Pray for Christ to give you the grace to fully and continually repent of your sins; go to Confession.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead