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Some definite service

Some definite service

Just after he had taken up Jesus’ call to ‘Follow me’, St Matthew held a banquet for Jesus at his house (see Lk 5:27-32 in addition to Mt 9:9-13).  To this banquet, Matthew appears to have invited ‘tax collectors and sinners’: why? Surely, when he invited this new acquaintance, Jesus, to dinner, he would have been tempted to seek dinner companions whom he thought might impress his new friend, or who were like-minded… or at least socially acceptable!  Of course he was right not to – for ‘those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do‘… but this was right at the beginning of Matthew’s apostolate.  What an impressive start!

Jesus, of course, had called the right tax collector to follow him. He wanted Matthew because he was Matthew. Time and again in the Gospels, Jesus ‘sees’  people not only for who they are now but for who they can become.

This brings to mind the words of Blessed John Henry Newman’s prayer,*

God knows me and calls me by my name…
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission – I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.

I don’t suppose St Matthew thought of himself as being terribly impressive or clever when he invited tax collectors and sinners to that banquet.  He was just being him; being true to himself… and that was precisely what Our Lord wanted.  Similarly, for the vast majority of us, that ‘definite service’ for which we were created is not going to be something impressive that will make even a column inch, let alone grab the headlines of the smallest free, weekly newspaper.

But that work, ‘which He has not committed to another‘ is the most important work of our lives, so let’s ask St Matthew to pray for us, that we, like him, will be true to ourselves and true to our Christian calling.

St Matthew, pray for us!


*You can find the whole of Newman’s prayer here.

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