One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

July 06, 2006

For Friday of the Thirteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 9:9-13

Today in the Gospel, Matthew the tax collector receives a daring challenge from a stranger: FOLLOW ME!
Hearing the stranger speak directly to him for the very first time, Matthew mysteriously stands up, immediately leaves everything behind, and goes to follow the stranger, Jesus, who has not yet so much as introduced himself.
We do not see Matthew bother to ask anyone who this stranger might be who has just said to him, “Follow me!”
Matthew does not take time to consider what is at stake.
He also does not ask for time to put his affairs in order first.
The only thing we have seen or heard in the Gospel is a challenge from a stranger, and the immediate response of Matthew.
We may see Matthew’s response as an example of pure, unhesitant faith
Christ came offering mercy.
Matthew was in need of it, and he knows it.
He was a publicly known sinner.
He knew he was a sinner.
On the other hand, as the Lord tells us in his Gospel, those who believe themselves healthy feel no need for a physician; but then in this way they lose, they miss the words of healing.
In contrast, Matthew, the publicly known “low-life”, a profiteering tax-collector, who was publicly recognized as a sinner, a public “sick man”, COULD and DID receive mercy in the invitation of Jesus.
When Matthew immediately stands up to follow Jesus, we see Jesus instead follow Matthew.
Jesus goes to Matthew’s house.
Suddenly we find Jesus there seated at table not only with Matthew, but also with a large crowd of tax collectors and other sinners.
Jesus had called only one sinner, Matthew.
Nonetheless, he accepts all those others whom Matthew himself has in turn invited.
All of these, Matthew and the large crowd of tax collectors and other sinners, sit down at the festive banquet together WITH and AS the disciples of Jesus.
This Jesus, with whom all of them eat, is a healer, a physician.
As we witness THOSE sinners sitting at table with Jesus, WE sinners should be grateful to recognize in their banquet of mercy a sign of the Eucharist— the banquet of salvation at which WE SIT HERE AND NOW— the banquet in which the Divine Healer sacrifices and gives himself to us as the one great and living medicine.
Today in the Gospel, Matthew and a crowd of sinners are celebrating the mercy of Jesus.
You and I at this Mass are also a crowd of sinners, sinners celebrating the mercy of Jesus.

That God Be Glorified in All


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