Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Feast)
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew. (Matthew 9:9)
Matthew probably had a lot of things going through his mind when he saw Jesus pass by. Let’s imagine that internal conversation:
“Oh no, he’s looking right at me. I’ve heard so much about this Jesus. People say he can heal any ailment and has even cast out demons. He doesn’t pull any punches but tells it like it is. He doesn’t seem to be cowed by anyone, neither religious leaders nor Roman occupation troops. In fact, I heard he even healed a centurion’s servant.
“But I feel stuck in the middle. I must turn over enough taxes to the Romans so that they won’t give my job to someone else, but I have to collect enough to provide for myself, don’t I? And if I’m not aggressive enough, other tax collectors are going to ruin my livelihood.
“Nobody likes to pay taxes. It’s the Romans’ fault, but I’m the one with my hand out, so my countrymen resent me. The religious leaders think I’m dirty because I work for the Romans and handle their money. It’s hard for me to have any self-respect.
“I’ll admit I’m curious about Jesus, but I’m also very busy. And yet, I can’t seem to look down and go on with my calculations. His eyes! It’s like he’s looking right into all the turmoil in my mind and heart, as if he knows I’m weary and fed up with it all, yet too weak to strike out in a different direction.
“When Jesus looks at me like that, all my pretenses drop away. I feel so hollow inside. This can’t be all there is to life! There must be something worth giving my whole life to.
“He’s about to say something: ‘Follow me.’ He’s talking to me! His voice isn’t loud, but suddenly those two words are echoing in my heart. This is the answer I’ve been looking for. I’m going to leave my books and my takings behind and go with him.
“There must be others who feel the same way I’ve been feeling. I want to invite some of the other tax collectors to dinner at my house. We’re not rivals anymore. I just want them to meet this man who can see right into my heart!”
Perhaps you are sitting at your “customs post” today. Lift your head and let Jesus look into your heart. He knows your weariness and confusion. He is offering you a role in building a kingdom that lasts forever.
“St. Matthew, pray for us.”
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13