The WORD in Other Words by Fr Flavianu Villanueva SVD (Philippines)
Feast of St Matthew the Evangelist, Eph 4:1–7, 11–13, Mt 9:9–13
Let‘s look at three movements in Matthew‘s calling and find some parallelism with the “signs of the times” today.
First, Jesus recognizes Matthew‘s sinful life and calls him to a “new way of life.” Today, drug addicts are killed. Just as we condemn the evil effects of drug abuse, like Jesus, we are called to recognize that “drug addicts” are human beings who are sick and needing medical and psychological care and mercy. Do we offer them opportunities for growth?
Second, Matthew heard Jesus‘ invitation. “Follow me.” Today, whose voice do we listen to? Is it a voice that calls us to curse or to affirm‘? To proclaim fake or good news? Is it a voice calling us to choose violence and death or to give hope and lite?
Third, the narrow-minded Pharisees derided Jesus‘ desire to be with the sinners. Today, how would we treat a sinner/a drug addict, with mercy or condemnation? Will we pardon and help the sinner or will we condone his killing?
In Pope Francis‘ The Name of God is Mercy, he aptly says, “The Church Fathers teach us that a shattered heart is the most pleasing gift to God. It is the sign that we are conscious of our sins, of the evil we have done, of our wretchedness, and of our need for forgiveness and mercy.
If Jesus were to see the “signs of the times” today, He would again declare, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Like Matthew to whom He said, “Follow me,” Jesus also summons us today, “Follow me,” don‘t be afraid to declare — Stop Condemning! Stop the Killings! Start the Healing.