The Gospel reading Feast of St. Matthew is Matthew 9:9-13.

In today’s reading, Christ calls Matthew to be a disciple and rebukes the Pharisees. Jewish tax collectors were despised by Jews as greedy sinners for over-collecting and for collaboration with the occupying Romans. Despite the profound stigma, as Christ passes by Matthew the tax collector, Jesus calls him to “Follow me.” Hearing, Matthew gets up, 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 Jesus directly, go to the disciples and seek to denigrate Christ 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, 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.”

After witnessing Christ’s Ascension, St. Matthew went on to write the Gospel of Matthew. Tradition holds St. Matthew evangelized  was martyred while offering Mass by the King of Ethiopia; St. Matthew had rebuked the King’s lustful pursuit of his own niece (who was a nun!). St. Matthew’s relics continue to be venerated in the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Salerno Italy.

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) Through the calling by Christ, St. Matthew was delivered from the vice of greed and embraced the poverty of an Apostle.  Review the Catechism’s teaching on the 10th Commandment (CCC 2534-2557) and pray for Christ to help you to reject greed and embrace the poverty of heart.  St. Matthew, pray for us!

3) In the day-to-day battle of life, men can forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Renew your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your Patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently