"Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his post where taxes were collected." —Matthew 9:9
Matthew was a tax collector. To a Jew, this was one of the most despicable jobs possible (see Mt 18:17). Tax collectors usually perpetrated violence and injustice against the poor. Worse than that, however, they sold out to the enemy, the Romans. Moreover, their association with the Romans made them unclean. Thus, tax collectors gave up their participation in the Jewish community and its worship.
Because of all this, a good Jew would not greet or associate with a tax collector. To eat with a tax collector and call him to become a disciple would be almost blasphemous to a good Jew. Therefore, Jesus' calling of Matthew to become a disciple was either an astounding revelation of God's grace or nothing less than an abomination before God.
Matthew's calling and conversion is a radical statement that:
Rejoice, for today is the feast of St. Matthew, a day of mercy and hope.
Prayer: Father, fill me with hope because of Matthew's conversion.
Promise: "I plead with you, then, as a prisoner for the Lord, to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." —Eph 4:1
Praise: Matthew expressed his faith in Jesus by joining himself to daily community with eleven other men whom he knew had despised him.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert J. Buschmiller, January 29, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 5, 1996
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