Today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew, the evangelist. As we hear in today’s first reading each of us has been given a “measure of Christ’s gifts.” These gifts are given for the common good and for building up the Body of Christ:
“And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
While the specific ministry of the evangelist is to preach the Gospel, this ministry is not restricted to Matthew. All of us are called to be evangelist, to preach the Gospel by our words but even more by our deeds.
If we are going to be evangelist like Matthew, we need to follow his example and make sure that we are preaching Christ. Matthew had to do careful research and to listen to others and then write down the teachings of Jesus and the stories of his healings and exorcisms.
Matthew tells us in today’s Gospel that a key teaching of Jesus was the mercy of God. Some Pharisees criticize Jesus because he was eating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Hosea 6:6). Then he challenges them to learn what these words of Hosea mean. Jesus declares he has “not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
We are called like Matthew, to be evangelist, to evangelize and preach the message and way of Jesus. Before we can preach and evangelize, we need to respond to the challenge of Jesus: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”
Image: “St Matthew” by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.