The Gospels are in harmony in portraying how Jesus reaches out to sinners and tax collectors, so much so that He actually calls one of them, Matthew. But equally amazing is the fact that Matthew does not even say a word – of surprise, objection, or outright rejection – to Jesus’ offer; he quietly and instantaneously leaves his post and follows Jesus. Just like that. Compare that to the ordinary vocation stories of saints or of ordinary priests or religious which are often dramatic and complicated, having so many twists and turns, some bargaining and discussion. So what can one say about such readiness of Matthew except that it is an extraordinary moment of grace. Perhaps Matthew had been waiting for the moment to encounter Jesus; and the moment does come and he gets more than what he expected, like Zacchaeus, another tax collector. Indeed, God works in very unexpected ways at times. How many of us, priests, can narrate how we found our vocations in very unexpected ways! But grace, once it knocks at one’s door, is very hard to say “No” to; in fact, you cannot. You simply have to get up, leave your post, and begin the journey where God is leading you to. Are you afraid to leave behind everything to follow Jesus? What is it that is preventing you from doing so?
GOSPEL • Matthew 9:9-13
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?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
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