Matthew’s call to be a disciple is both unusual and interesting because it gives us an insight into the way God works. Matthew was a tax-collector; which made him an outcast among the Jews because he collaborated with the Romans. The Roman system of tax collection was to encourage local men to act as their agents and whoever got the bid on a certain region collected whatever he could to the very limit, to make as much profit as possible. The collector paid the required taxes due to Rome and he was then allowed to keep any profit for himself. This made a tax collector a traitor to his own people, and a thief. Such a man was Matthew.
All this makes it so much more surprising how quickly he responded to Our Lord’s call to follow him. The gospel simply says, “Matthew got up and followed him.” He followed Jesus with the same promptness as the fishermen.
Such apostles are still needed today more than ever. And Our Lord is still approaching all kinds of Matthews at their various occupations with his call to follow.
In our selfish, money-grabbing age, many young people still want to do something worthwhile with their lives, and it shows they have open and generous hearts. They have a desire to serve: to give themselves for the betterment of the human race. It’s our duty to help them to hear Christ’s call to serve. A vocation to the priesthood or the religious life is a dedication to service, to give one’s life completely to others, as Christ did.
For those who may have discerned a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life, we should encourage them, like St. Matthew, to follow Christ to a life of service to God, the Church and the world.
Lord, send labourers into your harvest, for the harvest in rich, yet the labourers are few.