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Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

My dear encountered couples:

Today we celebrate the feast of a sinner - or at least one who was considered a sinner by the people of his town. It is the feast of the Apostle Matthew. He was a tax collector, as you very well know. He wasn’t only disliked, maybe even hated for doing his job, but he was also suspected of dishonesty, gross dishonesty.

Tax collectors were legal thieves in those days. But were all tax collectors thieves? Didn’t make any difference. All were suspected, accused, and judged to be crooked. To associate with them was an absolute no-no for the so-called “good citizens.”

Jesus associated with them. Not because he himself was a crook, of course, not because he was putting the stamp of approval on any form of dishonesty. Jesus just had a way of sniffing out goodness in people, goodness that was hidden and masked by so many other things they might have been in the habit of doing.

Since God had created people in his own likeness, Jesus believed that goodness must still be in there somewhere. Some vestige of remaining goodness is possible in the worst of us. And Jesus will not rest until it is proved impossible for him to find it. He will not rest from doing his best to put life into that goodness until it becomes active and overflowing.

Jesus found goodness in Matthew and led him to sainthood. He can do the same for anybody with a speck of goodness and a spark of willingness. That should give hope to all of us, even to those among us who are state and federal tax collectors.

Today, can we embrace our need for the Physician that heals our souls? Today, as we acknowledge God’s mercy for us, can we offer mercy to other hurting souls?

I desire mercy, not sacrifice (MT 9:13)

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