The Lord Will Guard Us

Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd guards his flock.

The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings.

Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
(Jeremiah 31:10-13)

Scripture Study

31:10 on distant isles Often used to refer to the farthest reaches of the known world (see Isa 11:11; 41:1; 60:9). who scatterer of Israel now gathers them The scattering was part of the covenant curses (Lev 26:33), but the restoration and gathering also was promised (Deut 30:1–4). Compare Jer 9:16; 10:21; 30:11; Ezek 36:19, 24.

a shepherd guards his flock The metaphor of Yahweh as a shepherd caring for His flock is common in the OT.

31:11 The Lord shall ransom Jacob The image of salvation in the formal sense of a legal ransom or act of redemption is a common feature in Isa 40–48 (e.g., Isa 43:1; 44:22; 48:20). God redeems His chosen people even at the cost of the other nations. This is a metaphorical ransom invoking the idea that redemption required payment.

31:12 life will become like a well-watered garden The imagery of this verse points to the future blessing on the land that results when God’s people are in right relationship with Him (compare Isa 35:10; 58:11). 

Scripture Reflection

The prophetical books speak of God’s tender mercy and John Paul II points out that “it is significant that in their preaching the prophets link mercy, which they often refer to because of the people’s sins, with the incisive image of love on God’s part. The Lord loves Israel with the love of a special choosing, much like the love of a spouse, and for this reason, he pardons its sins and even its infidelities and betrayals. When he finds repentance and true conversion, he brings his people back to grace. In the preaching of the prophets, mercy signifies a special power of love, which prevails over the sin and infidelity of the chosen people.

Connected with the mystery of creation is the mystery of the election, which in a special way shaped the history of the people whose spiritual father is Abraham by virtue of his faith. Nevertheless, through this people which journeys forward through the history both of the Old Covenant and of the New, that mystery of election refers to every man and woman, to the whole great human family: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you’ (Jer 31:3)” (Dives in Misericordia).

– James Gavigan

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Archangels

War broke out in heaven;
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.
For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,
who accuses them before our God day and night.
They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
love for life did not deter them from death.
Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them.”
(Revelation 12:7-12)

Scripture Study

12:7 Michael: The heavenly warrior and archangel (Jude 9) who protects the People of God (Dan 12:1). Here he leads the heavenly army in the attack against Satan and his hoards.

12:9 that ancient serpent: Satan, who took the form of a reptile when he instigated the fall of man in Gen 3:1–13. His name in Greek is the Devil, meaning “slanderer”, and his name in Hebrew is Satan, meaning “adversary”. the deceiver: Satan is the father of every lie and falsehood (Jn 8:44).

12:10 Now the salvation: Heaven celebrates the expulsion of the devil and his angels. This is not the fall of the angels at the dawn of time (12:4), but the defeat of evil at the turning point of salvation history, when Christ mounted the Cross and cast out the ruler of this world (Jn 12:31–32; Col 2:15). the kingdom: See note on Rev 11:15–19. accuser of our brethren: The devil is a prosecuting attorney who makes damning accusations against the saints (Job 1:6–11; Zech 3:1).

12:11 conquered … unto death: The martyrs appear defeated by death but are actually victorious. They, most of all, have shown the greater love (Jn 15:13) that makes them like Christ, even in his death (Phil 3:10).

Scripture Reflection

Once a most exalted creature, he became a devil because when God created man in his own image and likeness, he refused to acknowledge the dignity granted to man. Michael obeyed, but the devil and some other angels rebelled against God because they regarded man as beneath them. As a result the devil and his angelic followers were cast down to earth to be imprisoned in hell, which is why they ceaselessly tempt man, trying to make him sin so as to deprive him of the glory of God.

In the light of this tradition, the book of Revelation emphasizes that Christ, the new Adam, true God and true man, through his glorification merits and receives the worship that is his due—which spells the total rout of the devil. God’s design embraces both creation and redemption. Christ, the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, defeats the devil in a war which extends throughout human history; but the key stage in that war was the incarnation, death and glorification of our Lord.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Perplexed

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.
(Luke 9:7-9)

Scripture Study

9:7 Herod the tetrarch: Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea from 4/1 b.c. to a.d. 39. John had been raised: Luke does not recount John’s execution but last mentions him in Herod’s prison (3:20). His martyrdom is narrated in Mt 14:1–12 and Mk 6:14–29.

9:9 he sought to see him: Rumors were circulating that Jesus was a resurrected prophet, either John the Baptist (9:7), Elijah (9:8), or another OT figure (9:8). Herod’s desire to meet Jesus went unfulfilled until his trial (23:8–12). 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel we see Herod interested in and perplexed by Jesus. Political rulers don’t come across well in the New Testament. In Luke’s Christmas account, Caesar Augustus is compared very unfavorably to the Christ child. And that child, in Matthew’s account is hunted down by the desperate Herod. Later, Herod’s son persecutes John the Baptist and Jesus himself. More to it, the Jewish authorities are seen in all of the Gospels as corrupt.

And Pontius Pilate is a typical Roman governor: efficient, concerned for order, brutal. Like the other rulers of the time, he perceives Jesus, quite correctly, as a threat. “So you are a king?” Pilate asks. Jesus says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”

This does not mean that Jesus is unconcerned for the realities of politics, with the very “this-worldly” concerns of justice, peace, and right order. When he speaks of his kingdom not belonging to the “world”, he shades the negative side of that term. The”world” is the realm of sin, selfishness, hatred, violence. What he is saying is that his way of ordering things is not typical of the worldly powers like Pilate, Caesar, and Herod.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Are You Mission Equipped?

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
(Luke 9:1-6)

Scripture Study

9:1 gave them power: Jesus equips the apostles with his own spiritual authority to expel demons (4:35, 41), cure the sick (4:39; 5:13; 7:22; 8:47), and proclaim God’s kingdom (4:43; 8:1).

9:3 Take nothing: Trusting in God, the apostles must rely on local hospitality for necessities during their mission (12:22–24). This prepares them for leadership in the Church, where they will preach the gospel through a life of spiritual poverty (10:7).

9:5 shake the dust: A symbolic act of judgment and curse (10:10–12; Acts 13:51). Those who reject God’s kingdom disqualify themselves from its blessings. Palestinian Jews shook dust from their sandals when leaving Gentile territory and reentering the Holy Land. It was a derogatory statement against the uncleanness of Gentiles as pagans. Jesus commands a similar gesture to signify judgment on those who reject the gospel.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus sends the Twelve on their mission to announce the nearness of the Kingdom. I want to say a few things about embracing our mission and being equipped for it.

What do you need for your mission? You need a keen sense of God as the absolute center of your life. In a word, you require the spiritual gifts of piety and fear of the Lord. I realize that these terms can sound fussy and puritanical, but they are actually naming something strong and essential.

First, you need fear of the Lord, which does not mean that you are afraid of God. It means that nothing to you is more important than God, that everything in your life centers around and is subordinate to your love for God. Second, your equipping needs to include piety. Piety means you honor God above everything else, that you worship him alone. These spiritual gifts enable you to find true balance; they allow you to discover what your life is about.

Equipped with these gifts, you are ready for mission. Having received the fire of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to set the world on fire.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

We Are Family With A Mission

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
(Luke 8:19-21)

Scripture Study

8:19 His brothers: in Semitic usage, the terms “brother,” “sister” are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf. Gn 14:16; 29:15; Lv 10:4. While one cannot suppose that the meaning of a Greek word should be sought in the first place from Semitic usage, the Septuagint often translates the Hebrew ’āh by the Greek word adelphos, “brother,” as in the cited passages, a fact that may argue for a similar breadth of meaning in some New Testament passages. The question of meaning here would not have arisen but for the faith of the church in Mary’s perpetual virginity.

8:21 The family of Jesus is not constituted by physical relationship with him but by obedience to the word of God. In this, Luke agrees with the Marcan parallel (Mk 3:31–35), although by omitting Mk 3:33 and especially Mk 3:20–21 Luke has softened the Marcan picture of Jesus’ natural family. Probably he did this because Mary has already been presented in Lk 1:38 as the obedient handmaid of the Lord who fulfills the requirement for belonging to the eschatological family of Jesus; cf. also Lk 11:27–28.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus identifies his disciples as his family. I want to say something about our becoming disciples in his family. Once we make the decision to follow Jesus then every other claimant to supremacy must fall away. As I’ve argued many times before, every one of us has something or some set of values that we consider greatest.

Perhaps it is money, material things, power, or the esteem of others. Perhaps it is your family, your kids, your wife, your husband.

None of this is false, and none of these things are bad. But when you place any of them in the absolute center of gravity, things go awry. When you make any of them your ultimate or final good, your spiritual life goes haywire. When you attach yourself to any of them with an absolute tenacity, you will fall apart.

Only when we make Christ the cornerstone of our lives are we truly ready for mission. Keep in mind that every encounter with God in the Bible conduces to mission, to being sent to do the work of the Lord. If we try to do this work while we are stuck to any number of attachments, we will fail. Period.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Dispelling Darkness

Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
(Luke 8:16-18)

Scripture Study

8:16–18 The parable of the lamp explains Jesus’ teaching strategy, where the mysteries of the kingdom will be hidden from the multitudes only temporarily. With the birth of the New Covenant Church, they will finally come to light (8:17; 12:2–3). Morally St. Augustine in De Quaest, speaks of Jesus encouraging boldness in evangelical preaching. “No minister of the gospel should conceal the light of truth beneath earthly fears of persecution. The faithful servant puts Christ’s lamp in full view, displaying his truth for the benefit of all.”

8:18 Take care: Jesus attaches great responsibility to his message (12:48). The blessings of God’s truth must be treasured and shared, since whoever neglects or ignores them will lose them.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel is the parable of the lamp, which placed on a lampstand gives light to all. Light obviously isn’t for itself. Rather, we see things by it. It illuminates things upon which it shines.

We are light by which people around us come to see what is worth seeing. By the very quality and integrity of our lives, we shed light, illumining what is beautiful and revealing what is ugly. The clear implication is that without vibrant Christians the world is a much worse place. Let me illustrate this principle with an example. One of the most painful truths of the last century is that the weakness of Christian witness allows some of the worst elements in society to flourish.

Think of the rise of the evil powers that created WWII. Christianity had become so weak, so uncompelling, so attenuated that great evil was allowed to flourish. Yes indeed there were a handful of powerful Christian resisters, but let’s face it: the overwhelmingly vast majority of Christians either supported Hitler or remained in silence, either out of fear or indifference.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Extravagant Generosity

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
(Matthew 20:1-16)

Scripture Study

20:4 What is just: although the wage is not stipulated as in the case of those first hired, it will be fair.

20:8 Beginning with the last … the first: this element of the parable has no other purpose than to show how the first knew what the last were given (Mt 20:12).

20:13 I am not cheating you: literally, “I am not treating you unjustly.” The owner’s conduct involves no violation of justice (Mt 20:4, 13), and that all the workers receive the same wage is due only to his generosity to the latest arrivals; the resentment of the first comes from envy.

20:16 the last will be first . . . Different interpretations have been given to this saying, which comes from Mk 10:31. In view of Matthew’s associating it with the following parable (Mt 20:1–15) and substantially repeating it (in reverse order) at the end of that parable (Mt 20:16), it may be that his meaning is that all who respond to the call of Jesus, at whatever time (first or last), will be the same in respect to inheriting the benefits of the kingdom, which is the gift of God.

Scripture Reflection

The parable of the vineyard workers shines a spotlight on the extravagant generosity of God. The late hires received from the divine landowner the same compensation as the early arrivals, yet this was neither earned by their efforts nor owed to them according to the terms of the contract. It was not something they deserved or merited. It was simply a gift that the Lord was free to bestow at his good pleasure.

The early hires, however, mistook divine generosity for divine injustice. Theirs was an instinctive human reaction to an unfulfilled expectation (“we should have gotten more than the latecomers”) combined with a perception of unfairness (“the latecomers got a better hourly rate than we did”). Many of us can relate to the perspective of the disgruntled workers; their initial reaction—and perhaps ours—is to think they have been cheated.

But this is not the case, as the landowner explains. The injustice lies instead with the grumbling laborers, who have become envious of the others. Envy is not simply jealousy, which is the desire to attain or possess what another person has. Envy is the sin of being upset at another’s good fortune. Scripture traces its beginning back to the devil himself as we read in the Book of Wisdom.

The parable thus conveys a theological message about God’s goodness as well as a moral message that cautions readers against envy. The challenge is to rejoice at the liberality of God manifest in the lives of others. None of us is deserving of his grace or has a claim on his blessings. We all have reason to be grateful that the Lord is “generous.”

– Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Be the Good Soil

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”
(Luke 8:4-15)

Scripture Study

8:4 in a parable: parables either reveal or conceal divine mysteries. Here Jesus’ message remains hidden to the crowds, although it is explained to the disciples (8:9–10)

8:6 for lack of moisture Matthew states that the soil was shallow (the soil above the bedrock warms quickly, so seeds readily sprout, but the shallow soil cannot sustain growth – Mt 13:5). Luke clarifies the statement, but the meaning is the same: The plants did not have sufficient root depth to absorb moisture.

8:8 whoever has ears to hear ought to hear with this closing phrase, Jesus is calling on His audience to do more than hear; He wants them to understand and apply His teaching. The Greek verb used here, meaning “to hear” (akouō), is closely related to the verb meaning “to obey” (hypakouō).

[In the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the OT), akouō is used to translate Hebrew and Aramaic terms that call for obedience to God; this conceptual overlap between hearing and obeying is reflected in Luke’s use of akouō. In Acts (also written by Luke), Peter and John state that they must listen (akouō) to God rather than the Jewish leaders (Acts 4:19). Compare Mark 9:7; John 10:8, 16.]

8:10 they may look but not see In another quotation of Isaiah, Jesus compares His ministry with that of the OT prophets (see Isa 6:9–10; compare Jer 5:21; Ezek 12:2). In the same way that Israel rejected Isaiah’s message centuries earlier, many Jews reject Jesus’ teaching. They are unable to see the truth about God’s kingdom concealed within His parables.

8:11 word of God in the context of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels, “God’s word” or “word of God” typically refers to Jesus’ teaching about God’s kingdom.

8:12 those beside the path the seed described in Luke 8:5. The enemy who devours the seed is the devil, who is successful in preventing some people who hear Jesus’ proclamation from believing it.

8:13 those on the rock the seed described in v. 6. They initially receive the kingdom message but quickly abandon it when testing comes.

8:14 seed that fell into the thorn plants the seed described in v. 7. For these people, the cares and pursuits of their culture prevent their growth and choke out their faith.

8:15 the seed on the good soil the seed described in v. 8. These people receive Jesus’ message and give evidence of it in their lives.

Scripture Reflection

Jesus tells us himself that the seed is the Word of God and his preaching; and that the kinds of ground the seed falls on reflects people’s different attitudes towards Jesus and what he has taught. Our Lord sows the life of grace in souls through the preaching of the Church and through an endless flow of actual graces. However, Jesus foresaw that, due to the bad dispositions of some who hear his words, his parables would lead them to harden their hearts and to reject his grace.

The Lord tells us that the good soil has three distinct features — listening to God’s demands with the good disposition of a generous heart; striving to ensure that we do not fall away from the demands required of the good soil as time goes by; and finally, knowing that this is a lifelong process of beginning and beginning again, therefore, he urges us to persevere if the fruit is slow to appear.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

For the Love of Money

Beloved:
Teach and urge these things.
Whoever teaches something different
and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the religious teaching
is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,
and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds,
who are deprived of the truth,
supposing religion to be a means of gain.
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.
Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires,
which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
(1 Timothy 6:2-12)

Scripture Study

6:3-10 Paul resumes his criticism of false teachers wreaking havoc in Ephesus (1:3–11). He contends that the driving force behind their novelties is pride, an infatuation with controversy, and a distorted view of leadership. Not only that, but they exact a price for their preaching in order to accumulate wealth for themselves (6:10; Tit 1:11).

6:7 nothing into the world: Recalls similar statements in Job 1:21 and Eccles 5:15.

6:10 the love of money: Paul reproves, not the wealthy, but lovers of wealth. So dangerous is the allurement of riches that he warns in the strongest possible terms against piling it up for ourselves. Unless we become “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3), the downward pull of money and material possessions will eventually lead to destruction (Lk 12:15–21). ● What evils are caused by wealth! There are frauds, robberies, miseries, enmities, contentions, battles. Take away the love of money, and you put an end to war, conflict, enmity, strife, and contention (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Timothy 7).

6:12 the noble confession: Probably Timothy’s profession of faith enunciated at his Baptism. Paul is urging him to live out his baptismal promises to the full (CCC 2145).

Scripture Reflection

“The love of money is the root of all evils”

All those in the world, including Christians, are aware of the harmful effects of greed. St Paul uses this memorable phrase to get at the false teachers: the root cause of all their errors is their greed for possessions. It is clearly a perverted thing to do to turn godliness, religion, into a way of making money. Those who try to satisfy this ambition will end up unhappy and wretched.

It hurts a person of faith in Christ to see that some use the technique of speaking about the Cross of Christ only so as to climb and obtain promotion. Good teachers, on the contrary, are content with food and a roof over their head. They embrace “the spirit of poverty and charity that is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ” (Gaudium et spes).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Graceful Choice

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Matthew 9:9-13)

Scripture Study

9:9 A man named Matthew: Mark names this tax collector Levi (Mk 2:14). No such name appears in the four lists of the twelve who were the closest companions of Jesus (Mt 10:2–4; Mk 3:16–19; Lk 6:14–16; Acts 1:13 [eleven, because of the defection of Judas Iscariot]), whereas all four list a Matthew, designated in Mt 10:3 as “the tax collector.” The evangelist may have changed the “Levi” of his source to Matthew so that this man, whose call is given special notice, like that of the first four disciples (Mt 4:18–22), might be included among the twelve. Another reason for the change may be that the disciple Matthew was the source of traditions peculiar to the church for which the evangelist was writing.

9:10 His house: it is not clear whether his refers to Jesus or Matthew. Tax collectors: Jews who were engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs. Table association with such persons would cause ritual impurity.

9:11 Teacher: for Matthew, this designation of Jesus is true, for he has Jesus using it of himself (Mt 10:24, 25; 23:8; 26:18), yet when it is used of him by others they are either his opponents (Mt 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 22:16, 24, 36) or, as here and in Mt 19:16, well-disposed persons who cannot see more deeply. Thus it reveals an inadequate recognition of who Jesus is.

9:12 Do not need a physician: this maxim of Jesus with its implied irony was uttered to silence his adversaries who objected that he ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mk 2:16). Because the scribes and Pharisees were self-righteous, they were not capable of responding to Jesus’ call to repentance and faith in the gospel.

9:13 Go and learn … not sacrifice: Matthew adds the prophetic statement of Hos 6:6 to the Marcan account. If mercy is superior to the temple sacrifices, how much more to the laws of ritual impurity.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew and our Gospel tells of his conversion. Matthew’s laconic account details what the transition from spiritual death to spiritual life is like. First, we notice the look of Jesus. If there is one theme clearly stated in the New Testament is that of the primacy of grace.

Why? We don’t know. We just know that we will not lift ourselves to spiritual wholeness. A gaze has to come upon us from the outside. Not so much finding God as allowing oneself to be found.

Jesus says to him “Follow me.” There is nothing simpler or more basic in the Christian life than this. This is what we disciples do: we follow, we walk after him, we apprentice to him. “He got up and followed him.” The symbolism here is marvelous. Getting up, rising up, anastasis, the same word used to designate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Conversion (turning around) is also elevation, rising up.

To come to Christ is to come to a higher, richer, broader form of life. Now life is not simply the pleasures and goods of the body; now life is lived in and through God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.