Friday, July 07, 2017

The Conversion of St. Matthew

The Calling of St. Matthew, Caravaggio (1600)
Many scholars today try to dismiss Saint Matthew's seemingly instant conversion. They reason, not based on scripture, that Saint Matthew probably knew Jesus for a while beforehand and this was just his way of telling his readers when he left everything to follow Jesus.

It sounds good but I'll stick with what I read. Matthew got up and followed him. I know of many people who had instant conversions of this sort ( Fr. Donald Calloway, Zachary King). This doesn't mean that they were instantly saints but rather that they made the choice for Christ and did not look back. This doesn't mean everything from then on was easy but that they now had the strength of Christ and through Him they could do all things. Matthew heard the call of God and responded. His heart was open and Christ was able to walk in.

Something else to note is that Matthew didn't care what anyone thought of his conversion or his association with Jesus. In reality there were probably just as many skeptical "sinners and tax collectors" as there were Pharisees. Matthew's friends probably wondered why he would invite Jesus to a party in the same way that the Pharisees wondered how Jesus could dine with "these" people. Matthew isn't concerned about anyone's opinion. He is only concerned with his relationship with Christ. If that relationship results in his friends conversion all the better, but he will not shy away from his master out of human respect.

We see this same attitude in the 1st reading.  Here Abraham is determined to trust God and his plan no matter what.  He instructs his servant to find a wife for Issac trusting that God will provide.  Like Matthew, Abraham doesn't take his eyes off of the Lord and His promises.  We do well to do likewise.

Lord Jesus, You never cease to call me to follow You. Help me this day to leave all that keeps me from You. Help me to leave my cares for vanity and my concern with worldly opinion behind, take up my cross and follow You. Lord, come to my house and dine. Come into my life for I am sick with sin and in need of Your Divine Medicine.

"What amazes you seems natural to me: that God has sought you out in the practice of your profession! That is how he sought the first, Peter and Andrew, James and John, beside their nets, and Matthew, sitting in the custom-house. And - wonder of wonders - Paul, in his eagerness to destroy the seeds of Christianity!" - Saint Josemaria Escriva The Way 799

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Mother's Day Weekend.