5 July, Friday — When He calls. (2024)

Jul 5 – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest

St. Anthony (1502-1539) studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor in Cremona, he felt called to the religious life. He was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass. St. Anthony established two congregations that helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion.

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Amo 8:4-6,9-12
Mt 9:9-13

“…I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.

Reflecting on today’s Gospel, when Jesus called out to Matthew to follow Him, we see a powerful message of acceptance and transformation. In the society of that time, tax collectors were despised and regarded as having undesirable careers and questionable morals. They were often seen as greedy and dishonest individuals who collaborated with the Roman authorities to oppress their fellow Jews. As such, tax collectors had poor reputations and were not trusted by their fellow Jews, viewed as traitors, judged harshly, and condemned by society.

Yet, Jesus did not see tax collectors in this way. I wonder what Jesus saw in Matthew. He must have seen something very special in him. I also wonder how Matthew felt when Jesus called and chose him. Was he surprised or shocked? Or did he feel a sense of hope, self-worth, forgiveness, acceptance, or the promise of a new life? To be truly seen and called is a powerful and healing experience.

I feel a sense of guilt, especially in the corporate environment, for having judged others who were deemed ‘different’ from me, based on their outward appearances, capabilities, or because they seemed difficult or did not fit into the corporate culture. I would think to myself, “How did he/she make it to this position?” Even in ministry work, some may pigeonhole others into roles when, in reality, people are capable of so much more. From their perspective, these people may possess limited capability, but people, whether in the workplace or in the wider world, are often far more capable than we know.

Every day, the ‘Matthews’ in our lives and in the world are waiting to be recognized and called. Sometimes, we find ourselves in Matthew’s position, longing to be seen and called. I wonder who the ‘Matthews’ are in our community and what they might need from each of us.

On the other hand, there are times when we are called to step out of our comfort zones and perform a function or task that challenges us. More often than not, we respond with, “Oh, but I am not good enough.” I, for one, am guilty of this. I judge myself even before others do. However, when Matthew was called, he simply got up and followed Jesus. He followed Jesus, despite his own uncertainty and what others thought about him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he joined Jesus for dinner, securing a spot at the table among other tax collectors, sinners, and disciples. There was room for everyone at that table, regardless of their identity or past actions.

“Come, everything is now ready.” (Luke 14:17). There is room for everyone at the table. Jesus invites all — sinners, tax collectors, you, and me. Who then am I to judge who is worthy and who does not fit in? Look at St. Matthew — he became a great evangelizer of Jesus’ ministry.

The next time we find ourselves judging a fellow brother or sister, or even judging ourselves, let us remember that Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” He sees something special and malleable in us. Respond to the call and see what He can do!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for calling us as You called Matthew. Help us to see others with compassion and understanding, recognizing their worth. Forgive us for judging others, and ourselves, harshly. Grant us humility and courage to respond to Your call. May we create a welcoming community that reflects Your love and mercy. Guide us to embrace our unique gifts, knowing we all have a place at Your table.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank You for Your unwavering love and the transformative power of Your call. We are grateful for St. Matthew’s example, reminding us our past doesn’t define our future. Thank You for seeing the good in us, for Your forgiveness, and for new beginnings. We are thankful for supportive people in our lives and for the strength to support others. Help us live in gratitude, aware of Your presence and guidance. Amen.

5 July, Friday — When He calls. (2024)
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