St. Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist, Thursday – 21stSeptember 2023 — Gospel: Mt 9,9-13
The Gospel presents Mathew’s version of Jesus calling a tax-collector to be a disciple. The tax collectors have a very poor reputation in the Gospel. They were considered traitors to the Jewish people since they worked for the Romans, the “oppressors” of God’s chosen people. So, they were seen both as renegades and traitors. They are numbered among the groups of outcasts with whom no decent person would have any contact. Even Jesus, when speaking of members of the Christian community who refuse to change their sinful ways, would compare them to tax collectors, “… let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector” (Mt 18,17). The ordinary Jew would not even converse with one such as this. But Jesus invites such a person to be his disciple. This tells a number of things about Jesus. It means that he does not look at stereotypes. He does not neglect, rather looks at him optimistically and sees his potential. In inviting him to be his close follower and apostle, to carry out Jesus’ mission to the end of the world, he manifests his divine nature. For Jesus, our past is not very important. What counts is where we are now and where we can be in the future.