Mt 9:9-13 Something’s Not Right Here!
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
I said it yesterday and I will say it again today. The Lord did not spend his entire life performing amazing miracles. He spent most of his time talking to the brokenhearted. His mission is our mission. His advice should be taken seriously: “They will know you belong to me by the way you love.”
This morning I celebrated Mass for our Middle School kids. I told them a story that I have been using (and modifying) for a while now. I’ve changed some of the names to make it more relatable. But the story is true in its essence.
A few weeks ago, I went to breakfast with a couple of moms. They asked me all sorts of questions about the faith, the Church and about Catholic schools. They asked me what I thought about one particular Catholic school. I told them the truth. I told them that the school encouraged the kids to be the best that they could be; that it offered excellent academics and programs. But then one mom asked me point blank: “What do you think is not so good about the school?” I thought long and hard about it, and I told them: “Well, they are not as diverse as some of the other schools.” Of course they were a little shocked to hear that. But I clarified my point by saying, “They don’t have very many mean kids like the other schools do.”
I wish you could have seen the look on their face!
Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak knows that I love to grab my audience’s attention by throwing some bait out there, have them nibble on it, then hook them good, reel them in nice and slow, and pound them over the head! That’s how one religion teacher described my homilies to students. I’m not sure if that is true, but I do try!
What makes Christ so amazing? What makes Christ so loveable? What makes Christ so relatable? Is it the comfortable lie that he accepts us just the way we are? No. Is it the bull that he loves diversity? No. Then what is it? It is the fact that He wants to love me and change me.
The Lord called Matthew not because He deserved it or because He was worthy of it or because He needed some diversity among the Twelve. He called Matthew because He wanted to change this young man’s life. And He was willing to do whatever it took to do so. He was not about to take no for an answer. And by the looks of it, Matthew was more than ready to follow the Lord.
Something is not right with today’s Gospel. The Lord came into the custom’s post. He saw Matthew. He pointed at Matthew. He said to Matthew: “Follow me.” And Matthew got up, left everything and never turned back.
Give me a break! How unrealistic. How could this happen! This never happens! Unless…unless… Matthew was not happy with his life. Yes…this could never have happened unless Matthew was more than ready for a change in his life.
But how could he not be happy? Didn’t he have all the money? Didn’t he have the people shaking at their knees? Yes. He had power. He had money. So what was missing? Nothing…except one thing; the most important thing: the Lord. And that’s why Matthew got up and left it all behind. He was sick and tired of it all and was finally ready to give the Lord his life.
When will I learn? When will I finally figure it out? When will I realize that the Lord must be the cornerstone, the foundation, the columns, the roots and depth of my life? If not, then I will continue to chase after wild dreams and succumb to horrible nightmares.
Today, if you know a mean person in your life, then call them and invite them to follow you so that you can lead them to Christ. We need to know more mean people in our lives so that we never forget who we do not want to be, and never forget what we are supposed to do: love the unlovable and convert the despicable.
“Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”