Our lives have meaning and purpose, and while some of us make manage to make sense of it all without the help of God, most of us need that help and all of us benefit from knowing God and how He has called us out of the darkness of confusion into the light of meaning and purpose. This is the discovery of what a vocation is and this is what we celebrate today in Word. Samuel anoints Saul; affirms in him God’s call for him. We hear of Jesus’ invitation “out of blue” of a notorious figure in Matthew.
In vocation work, I have more than one person who has told me that St. Matthew’s call story is a powerful one for them; that a man who was so notorious could be chosen not only for a mission to be a disciple like everyone else, but an Apostle, to be a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ. Many of us feel like great sinners and that the weaknesses and failings we exhibit could keep us from greatness as Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. Saints are reformed sinners, every one of us. Whether we’re called to be a married man or woman, priest or religious, we are all reformed sinners still in the process of reforming and hopefully being restored in an on-going way through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
What is so amazing to me about Matthew’s call we hear today is how it truly speaks to a very real human experience. Matthew is making money; as a tax collector he surely has money in his pocket, and even though he is despised, he has a certain amount of power and influence and probably could cruise through life with “friends” or people who pretend to be his friends at least. But has he found his meaning and purpose? Could he be happy?
Although we can only ever speculate, I would assert that he could be content. He has money and more than others living in Galilee and Jerusalem, he could afford things. We know he had a place to have Jesus in for supper. He may have to sell himself a little but he surely had people who could do things for him, or whom he could do things for – these might be ‘friends’ in a manner of speaking. On his own, he got himself a job – but to find his true meaning and purpose, that which he gave his entire and the rest of his life for; He only managed to find through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself invited him to this, and when he accepted his life was forever changed. He lived for something, which he completely lived for (and died for).
What about us? Can we see ourselves in St. Matthew? Can we see a similar pattern in our lives? I know I can and did. Like St. Matthew (maybe a lot older than he was), I had Jesus come and invite me to “follow Him” and I did, followed Him into priesthood; and although my life continues to have challenges, struggles, hardships at times – it is filled with joy and through priesthood I have found my meaning and purpose and I am fully committed to it. Most priests and religious are. Something to consider on this day we remember the calling of St. Matthew.