Catholic homily for the Feast of the St. Matthew the Apostle
Theme: A call to become His disciple
By: Fr. Benny Tuazon
Homily for Tuesday September 21 2021
(Mt. 9:9-13) Feast of St. Matthew, the Apostle.
In today’s Gospel Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to follow Him. It was a call to become His disciple. This should have come as a surprise to the people, Jesus’ followers, and Matthew himself. A tax collector in Israel during the time of Jesus was considered a grave sinner. They took advantage of the trust by the Roman Emperor. They exacted from their fellow Jews much more than the required tax. The Roman government was only interested in their share. They do not care how much the tax collectors charged. We remember another known tax collector, Zacchaeus, who confessed guilty of defrauding and promised to return an amount four times what he charged.
We can say that tax collectors were the object of wrath and hate by the Jews. The action of Jesus of inviting him to be one of His disciples is very revealing. In the context of our present situation regarding the killings of those involved in illegal drugs whether as an addict, pusher, supplier, manufacturer, and drug lord, this is very relevant. Jesus knew who Matthew was. I am sure many were confused at His decision to invite Matthew. I am sure too that many resented it. But they trusted the Lord. Jesus definitely knew what He was doing.
Jesus was not only interested in having a disciple. His message was one of compassion, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” He saw sinners as suffering from a sickness. For Jesus, He would rather heal them than punish them, worse, kill them. Jesus knew human condition well. Humans have the capacity to renew themselves and repent. Humans have inherent goodness because we came from God. This important truth is sometimes forgotten by us. Maybe we should ask how Jesus will look at drug addicts? It is true that many of them had committed grave crimes like robbery, murder, rape, snatching, etc. But we can say that if they were not under the influence of drugs or in need of money to sustain their vices, or obtain money for other needs, they would not have committed those crimes. Unfortunately, our response to their acts, though harsh and life threatening, does not stop the crimes and does not address their condition. In other words, the crimes will persists because the response is not radical.
The establishment of many rehabilitation enters at the beginning of the present government was good news to many. However, up to the present, they remain almost empty. Instead of giving them a chance to be healed and rehabilitated, they are being killed during operations citing that they resisted, “nanlaban.” This is inconsistent with what was promised. Is it true that the police has a quota for killed drug addicts? Where there is smoke, there is fire, a saying says. Bishop David of the Diocese of Caloocan pleaded, even cried, to stop the killing and start the healing. The Christian Faith is a faith of hope. I have heard of stories of addicts who had been freed from their drug addiction imprisonment. Parents, specially mothers have a very important role to play. Love heals.
Matthew experienced this love and trust. He became a faithful follower. He even become one of the evangelists. The Good News is available to everyone. Jesus came for the conversion of sinners. If Jesus had hope for great sinners like Matthew, Paul, Peter, Magdalene, Zacchaeus, the thief, me, and you, why not our illegal drugs victims? Let us ask the intercession of St. Matthew for our illegal drug victims.
Pray for us!