21 Sep – Feast of St. Matthew, apostle, evangelist
Matthew was a tax gatherer, born at Capernaum, called by Jesus, for whom he left everything and turned to a new life. His Gospel was written in Hebrew. Tradition tells that he preached in the East.
– the Weekday Missal
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear wit one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.
Each one of us, however, has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. And to some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unit in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.
As Jesus was walking on he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When he heard this he replied, “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.”
Sometimes when chatting with other Catholics, we hear things like, “I don’t know where God is calling me to serve.” The first thing that pops into my mind when I hear this is, “Are you listening?”
We often think that unless we are serving God in some way, we are not good Christians. We develop a guilty complex and try to find some way that we can serve God in. But often, this type of service doesn’t last long, because God is not the focus of the service; we are. We serve because we feel bad that we are not serving.
As a continuation from yesterday’s sharing, service is nothing without love. The first and most important thing is to have a loving and open relationship with God, one in which you can talk to God and he listens, and in which he talks to you and you listen. Obviously this means having quiet time for prayer everyday, if possible. God’s not going to pounce on you when you miss a day because you’re tired and can’t focus. But the important thing here is that the focus is on God, not on ourselves.
Only in an open relationship in which all things can be honestly shared between you and God can you slowly begin to discover where God is calling you. Today’s readings are not the only ones that tell us that each of us has a specific place in the Body of Christ that has been reserved for us; only we can fit that role perfectly, no one else can.
The difficulty of course is finding out what that role is. What are some of the reasons that we cannot find where God is calling us to? As mentioned, the first is lack of prayer and a open and loving relationship with God. The second reason we find in the gospel reading of the day.
When God chooses a person for a certain role, he deliberately chooses the unqualified, or at least those who know that they are unqualified. This is so that his glory can make itself known in their service. A person who knows he is qualified, or even overqualified will be tempted to depend on their own qualifications to get the job done. It then becomes something which comes from himself or herself, and not from the loving relationship with God.
This is why when we try to discern where God is calling us to, we must make God the centre of our discernment, not ourselves. By being loving, that is, directing our love towards God, we focus our attention on God, not ourselves. By being open, we give God the necessary quiet time and space each day to speak to us, telling us each day how he is calling us to serve him.
Discernment isn’t a one-off thing; it’s a life-time thing. Every day, we are called to discern how God is calling us to serve him. Thus, every day, we must try to reserve some quiet time to spend with God, to nurture this open and loving relationship with him. Only then will we know just how God is calling us to serve him with love.
Dear Jesus, help us to manage our priorities. Give us time to sit down with you, to sort out what’s really important in our lives, and to find out where we place you in our lives. Help us to realise how much we need you, and with your Holy Spirit guiding us, teach us how to manage our time better, so that we can always reserve some time each day to spend with you. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Telling me what he wants my relationship with him to be.
Fri, 22 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 8:1-3
Sat, 23 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Luke 8:4-15; Memorial for St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest
Sun, 24 Sep – Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16 – 4:3; Mark 9:30-37; Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.