Focusing on Christ.

MATTHEW DESCRIBES his reaction to the Master’s call: “He got up and followed him” (Mt 9, 9). From this moment on, his life will be completely different from the one he led before. He meets him when he sits and collects taxes. Perhaps his goal was primarily to enjoy the wealth he had earned. But with Jesus, the priorities of his life will be different. It is true that until now, he had not enjoyed great fame among his fellow citizens. Still, money and the respect of the Roman authorities compensated him for the rejection of many of his people. Looking at Jesus and his words, Matthew gave up these certainties and embarked on an adventurous journey to find the Messiah.

“He stood up”. One needs to stand in front of everyone. It is a gesture that shows recognition of a significant person; it means interrupting what one was doing to give it one’s full attention. When a person stands up, he is alert and ready to go in one direction or another. Matthew shows himself to be prepared to do anything for Jesus because his ranking of values has changed thanks to God and his dispositions: the most important thing is no longer wealth or a comfortable life, but to dedicate all his strength to Christ.

Saint Matthew was probably aware of the risks associated with this decision. However, he also leaves behind the attitude of a person who calculates. Every disciple’s life consists of opening oneself to a divine adventure, often full of surprises and uncertainties. Following Jesus means walking in his footsteps, not always knowing exactly where they will lead, but realizing that the happiness he can bring us is much greater than our predictions. “It is necessary to trust him and take a step to meet him and eliminate the fear of thinking that if we do this, we will miss out on many good things in life. His ability to surprise us is far greater than our expectations” 

Matthew’s ANSWER to Jesus needs to focus on himself. He needs to think about whether he’s ready or not or whether he’ll be better positioned to decide later. Perhaps, mysteriously, he was waiting for the call addressed to him by the Master. And to discover him in all his brilliance, he had to look and listen carefully to him rather than to himself. There can always be a temptation to stop following Jesus and sit down and count the costs and benefits, especially when the going gets tough, and it can seem like it’s not worth the effort.

This is what happened to Peter when he walked on the water. He could stand and move forward as long as his eyes were fixed on Jesus. However, as soon as he paid attention to his fragility and the strength of the wind, fear and uncertainty entered his heart, almost sinking him. At his cry: “Lord, save me” (Mt 14, 30), “Jesus immediately put out his hand, caught him and said to him: You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt 14, 31).

Following a vocation has something of walking on water, from overcoming one’s abilities with the certainty that the Lord does things and keeps accounts. On this journey, the spiritual guidance of someone who can always advise or help us discern is essential, not only in the first stages of discovering a vocation. “Serve your God sincerely,” writes Saint Josemaría, “be faithful to him… and do not worry about anything: because it is a great truth that if you seek the kingdom of God and His justice, He will give you everything else – material, means – in addition .

IN HONOR OF THE ANSWER to Jesus’ invitation, St. Matthew decides to prepare a feast in his house. Some publicans like him and others were present, but they were also considered public sinners in the eyes of the people. Therefore, when the Pharisees saw the Lord eating with Matthew’s friends, they asked the disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mt 9, 11). But when Christ heard these words, he replied: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn what it means: I want mercy and not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9, 12-13).

“The first thing we have to do is realize this: none of us, none of us here can say: I am not a sinner. The Pharisees did it, and Jesus condemns them” [3]. Accepting ourselves as we are, with our virtues and faults, draws us to the Lord. He comes to us not because we have done things right but because we are sinners who need his mercy. The first step in receiving the Lord is recognizing that we need Him. In this way, we will face our personal sufferings hand in hand with Christ, knowing that the experience of sin will not make us doubt our mission. “God’s power manifests itself in our weakness,” says Saint Josemaría, “and calls us to fight, to struggle with our mistakes, even though we know that we will never achieve complete victory in this earthly pilgrimage. The Christian life means starting over and over again, constantly renewing oneself every day”.

Mary is the mother of mercy. She can help us recognize our sins with a motherly, non-judgmental eye. And from his son, he will also give us the grace to fight with hope because he knows that Jesus reveals himself to us in that “we want to be better, in the desire for pure love, in suppressing selfishness, in completely giving ourselves to other people, doing so from our constant service of life.”

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