Imagine St. Matthew the Evangelist, sitting at his desk as a publican, prior to encountering Christ. Imagine the satisfaction he must feel as he contemplates the profit that he is going to accumulate that day by cheating his fellow Jews out of their hard-earned money. Imagine the looks of disgust and hatred that his fellow Jews openly direct at him, being a thief and a traitor to his own people by working for the Romans as a tax-collector. Imagine the shame and sadness that his family and friends must feel whenever they pass him by, as he continues to shame himself through his sinful life. Finally, imagine Matthew again, feeling that there is something crucial missing from his life, that his purpose has not yet been fulfilled.
Imagine, now, the shock and confusion as he finds himself responding to two simple words, spoken to him by a simple carpenter passing through the town: “Follow me.”
Does this response make total sense? From the outset, no it does not. Just as with the calling of the sons of Zebedee, Matthew simply leaves his entire life behind him and follows a Galilean whom he knows is going to change not only his life, but the lives of everyone around him. Suddenly, his life has worth, for he knows he has encountered the one to whom he owes his worth. His attachments to his life of embezzlement and to his selfishness fall away from him; the chains binding him to the earth dissolve, and he is able to fly. He knows that, with this Galilean named Jesus, his life will never be the same.
I certainly hope that we, as Catholics, do not have lifestyles akin to that of pre-conversion Matthew. However, the fact remains that we are human, and we undoubtedly fall short of heaven every single day. However, St. Matthew is just one of countless examples of saints who rejected sin in order to follow Christ, as He yearns to chip away our impurities to reveal the gem beneath. He is always knocking, always awaiting our reply, “Here I am Lord, your servant is listening” (cf. 1 Samuel 3:8). At the appropriate time, the call of Christ shattered the walls around Matthew’s heart, and he began to take up his cross to follow Jesus. Let us do the same each and every day, and let us respond to the call of Christ every single day. All it takes is a little step of faith in the direction of Christ, and He will show you wonders in return.
Pray without ceasing!
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