This past Thursday, we celebrated the feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. One of the things I appreciate about this feast is that it is a great reminder that Jesus did not call the elite and popular to be his friends; he chose the unlovely; the despised; the outcast. Matthew was a tax-collector — the kind of person you might cross the street to avoid. He was no one’s friend… until Jesus came along, and changed his whole world.
Quite aside from the delightful reminder that we are not called to be disciples of Christ because of our own virtues, I also find it refreshing to be reminded that — like St Matthew — in the presence of Jesus’ love and acceptance, we are all freed to become better versions of ourselves.
Have you ever met a person who believes they are a lost cause, but once they find themselves in a loving, welcoming community, they begin to blossom? That is the vision of church that Jesus is modelling for us in gathering the disciples. All of us are unlovely in some way or another, but gathered around Jesus in loving community, we begin to grow into the image of Christ together.
Yet, we are not gathered just for our own sakes. St Matthew is not just an apostle but an evangelist — a messenger of good news. The blessings he receives as Jesus’ friend are the inspiration for the Gospel that bears his name. So, too, the blessings we receive are meant to be shared with the world, so that others can come to know the transformative love of Christ as well. This is why we close the Mass with a ‘sending’ phrase: “Go forth in the name of Christ.”
As we go through our week, may our eyes be open for the opportunities God presents us with, to take the blessings we have received and pass them on to others.