We’ve all heard the story. Jesus sees a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office and says to him, “Follow me.”
But do we really buy it?
In the time of Jesus, tax collectors were despised. Not only did they work for the hated Romans, but they also cheated the their own people out of even more money than the Romans demanded—which went right into their own pockets.
Such a man dropped everything to take up with an itinerant preacher?
Why is this story believable?
Saint Bede the Venerable, a seventh-century monk, explains that Jesus saw Matthew not in the usual sense, but with his merciful understanding of people.
Matthew, therefore, essentially shrank under the power of Christ’s eyes of mercy and surrendered to God’s grace.
When we look with “eyes of mercy” at those who disappoint us or disagree with us or even humiliate us, can we see buried beneath their “unworthiness” the seeds of a desire for God, the attempts to love (however botched), or the hunger for holiness (perhaps muddied and misdirected, but still there)?
Our prayer today: Lord, you showed your great mercy to Matthew by calling him to be your apostle. May we, too, always be as eager as Matthew to answer your call to holiness.