On this feast of St. Matthew we recall one of those who were first called to the inner circle of Jesus’ teaching and ministry in order to bring that word to the world through their own evangelization.
Sometimes when I think of that first group surrounding Jesus I get romantic notions in my head; this little band of rebels, ala Robin Hood and his Merry Men. But it is good to reflect on the type of people that Jesus first went to as he began his mission. These were not Hollywood celebrities or University graduates or politicians. The demographic that Jesus targeted was more bottom of the barrel. Matthew was a tax collector and probably despised both for being an agent of the Roman occupiers as well as being untrustworthy. The other apostles were run of the mill fisherman and other characters of low rank.
Compare this to other teachers of Western philosophy; Aristotle, Socrates, Descartes who surrounded themselves with students of noble class and high status. Jesus spoke to the least of the least and it was these that he invited into his ministry of love, healing and forgiveness.
If we can reflect on that we see that the invitation is really going out to us. We might be more educated and have fine clothes but at our heart is a simple desire to find meaning and acceptance in this world. Jesus comes to us and offers us a word of hope. Like it did for Matthew, that word speaks to our heart and we are moved to recognize that it is not what we do or who we are in the world that is important but rather, whose we are. We were created by God and we belong to Him.
Matthew’s response to Jesus was not to abandon the life which was holding him back but rather to allow Christ to enter it. Matthew’s first act of evangelization was to invite Jesus home to dinner and to bring all his friends and acquaintances to meet him, presumably transforming their own lives in the process.
There is no part of our life that cannot be transformed by God’s word and there is nowhere we are that cannot be made better by sharing our love of Christ. On this feast day of St. Matthew take time to reflect on your own call to be an apostle of Christ and how you might share that gift with others today.