“CHRIST IS MERCY, ON SINNERS”
Saint Matthew 9. 9-13
SAINT MATTHEW: 21 September Anno + Domini 2014
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
Levi was special. This tax collector, this publican, was special because Jesus made it so!
You all are unique for the same reason.
No one is forgotten…no one is ever forgotten. No Christian is ever abandoned or forsaken. You have The Lord’s Word on it…on you…and in you. Now that’s a pledge you can live with—forever!
A popular Facebook meme accurately states: “Though Communism is 100% ineffective at making everyone wealthy, it IS 100% effective at making everyone poor and miserable.” Yes! And isn’t that exactly what the devil does? Communism is Satanic because it is simply the organized “fanning the flames” of envy—greed—laziness—theft—and concupiscence! As every person by fallen nature is an “enthusiast” (a “schwermerai” as Luther puts it in the Smalcald Articles) so too everyone is a spiritual communist by nature. This is why Protestants hate the Saints and why ignorant Lutherans too eschew giving honor and respect to the Saints. Repent! You can’t make yourself bigger or more important by avoiding the greatness of Saint Matthew. To be sure, he is only one of 12 human beings ever to live that can be called both Disciple of Jesus and Apostle of The Lord Christ—both designations and ordinations the result of God’s own calling. Hallelujah! Levi is only one of four humans to be supernally blessed to be called Evangelist—i.e. Gospeller! Hallelujah!
And the joy of the Good News is that Levi is only Saint Matthew because Jesus made him so…the same way He has made you Saint “ - - - .” “[Jesus] saw a man…sitting at the receipt of custom, and He saith unto him, follow Me.” You and Levi share the same Father, God the 1st Person, and the same Mother, Holy Mother Church. You and your fellow publican both started off as collaborators—both to secular Baals (whether Rome, America, or just plain SELF) and Satan as well. Levi and you, traitors like your Father Adam.
Levi collected money that was not his. He probably “took a cut” of it as well, as was common. He used authority not his to ‘lord it over’ others. This is YOU to a “t.” Repent!
Levi could and did repent because Jesus went to him, found this lost lamb, and placed His Word into him. The Christ does the work and then gives the benefit to His brethren. The Word works. The Gospel gives one what is required: “repent and believe;” gives the faith to the recipient to receive the Christ…and then to repent…i.e. “to follow.”
Though Christ came to call all to repentance, though He died for all and desires all to believe, He made a point, and still does, to come and associate with, be with, get down in the dirt with, SINNERS. Jesus embraces the miserable, where they are. Jesus took all that misery to the Tree and let it kill Him.
Yes He teaches and catechizes…that is, He gives His very words from His mouth. His Words always give His Person and Work: “God of God, light of light, Who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made Man; and was crucified also for us; He suffered and was buried.”
But, how would you know this were it not for THE WORD giving His Words to be preached, “Gospelled,” and then recorded for all time and all people in the New Testament? Levi was given that task, that joy. What does Levi, named Matthew, tell the Church Catholic? Saint Matthew writes the first of the Gospels so that Christ might always remain in your midst—where two or three are gathered. The Gospel of Matthew is the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of The Holy Spirit that guaranteed Matthew wrote what God wanted written, and of The Father. This Good News is not primarily meant for personal study and reflection, although it is salutary so to immerse oneself in the Word, always. But rather, this text is the Church’s Text. It is the Person and Work of He Who is the Baptizer, Preacher, Absolver, Celebrant, and Food. It is that which gathers you all at the Mass every week.
What is today all about? It’s not about Matthew but about Jesus. Jesus coming to sit with people just like Matthew, people who are fellow publicans (cheats, traitors, money-obsessed, liars, and idolaters) people just like you and me in our sinful selves. When you grumble and look down your Jewish nose at others who aren’t as “good” as you think you are, then you are Pharisees. Stop it! Grow up into the maturity of The Faith. And even at those times when you’re not the Pharisee you are the sinful tax-collector. Stop it! Grow up into the generosity of He Who Redeemed you: “not with gold or silver but with His Holy Precious Blood and with His innocent suffering and death.”
Be what you are. Admit what you are. It’s okay to be sick if you’re in the best hospital in the cosmos. It’s okay to have the disease if you’re in the presence of the Physician Who has the cure—Who IS The Cure! Miserable in, with, and under sin look around and hear the Gospel “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, for I Am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus has mercy this morning for He Is Mercy. He was Sacrifice, the Lamb slain in your stead. He is now not roasted lamb but The Bread from Heaven in, with, and under the Bread of Eucharist. He is The Righteous One and He calls you to Table—not the operating table but the Banquet Table. Join Matthew and Mary, Peter and Paul. Join Publicans and Sinners and luxuriate and joy in Mercy.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost