Jesus calls Matthew to be His disciple and eats with tax-collectors. Every Catholic Man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Fraternity so he can rise about tribalism and build deep fraternity with all men and by growing in the Virtue of Sacrifice so he can reject effeminacy and sacrifice for Christ.
10th Week in Ordinary Time – Sunday – Cycle A – Mt 9:9-13
Following His declaration of the New Covenant in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus performs 10 miracles (Mt 8-9) that reveal His Divinity. Recruiting the 12 men who will build the earthly Church after His Ascension, Jesus calls Matthew to be an Apostle and rebukes the lack of mercy of the Pharisees.
Jewish tax collectors were despised by Jews as unredeemable sinners because they robbed the people by over-collecting taxes, they had regular contact with the “unclean” Gentiles, and they collaborated with the enemy of Israel, the occupying Romans. Despite the profound stigma, as Jesus passes by Matthew the tax collector, Jesus calls him to “Follow me.” Hearing, Matthew immediately gets up, leaves everything (a secure source of income) and follows Jesus. Later, Matthew holds a feast at his home to honor Jesus and invites many other tax collectors and other sinners.
Table fellowship was a sign of personal acceptance and fraternity, and Jesus’ decision to dine with a tax collector violated the Pharisees’ (meaning, separated ones) strict refusal to mix with “sinners”, especially in table fellowship. The Pharisees, perhaps afraid to challenge Jesus directly, go to His disciples and accuse Him of eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” As always, Jesus is aware of the schemes of men. He rebukes the Pharisees, recalling Hosea’s rebuke of the corrupt Israelites 750 years earlier (“I desire mercy, not sacrifice”). Particularly stinging, Jesus directs the Pharisees, proud in their adherence to Scripture, to learn the true meaning of Scripture. Driving home the rebuke with a powerful assertion of His authority, Jesus closes with the memorable, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Marvel at how Jesus calls all men to Himself: Divine Charity; Jesus has a profound love of every single man He created and acts to save all men; Jesus acts with generous Affability (a part of Justice) to call even the most despised outcasts of Jewish society (tax collectors, sinners), respecting their dignity and willingly engaging in table fellowship; Divine Mercy, Jesus seeks to reach those who reject Him, even those who will collaborate to kill Him in the Crucifixion.
Rise above tribalism and seek fraternity with all men
Realize: In stark contrast to Jesus’ mission to unify men, the modern culture seeks to divide men into warring tribes (ideological, political, economic, national, ethnic, race, sex) which viciously condemn, insult and even violently attack their enemies; many are becoming like the entrenched, judgmental, and hypocritical Pharisees.
Believe: Reflect upon Mercy (CCC 1473, 1846-1848, 1864, 2091, 2447, 2840).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Fraternity, help me build the Virtue of Fraternity (a part of Justice) so I can be inspired by Your fraternity with the Apostles, reject the division and hatred of tribalism and to grow in merciful love and friendship of all people.
Reject Effeminacy and Sacrifice for Christ
Realize: In opposition to Christ’s call that His men must be willing to persevere in extreme sacrifice, the modern culture increasingly promotes the Vice of Effeminacy, classically described as softness, a preference for pleasure, and an unwillingness to endure hardship; this is seen in the promotion of a victim mentality, fear and overcautiousness, dependence on government, fragileness, safe spaces, prolonged adolescence and self-indulgent consumerism.
Believe: Reflect upon a Catholic man’s need to Sacrifice (CCC 901, 2099-2100).
Pray: Jesus, Crucified Christ, help me grow in the heroic Virtue of Sacrifice (a part of Justice) so I reject fear and effeminacy, respond to Your call to pick up my cross, and sacrifice my selfish desires in reparation for my own sins and to serve You.