Father David's Reflection for the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
The Responsorial (Psalm 19) says of Matthew and all who spread the Good News to others: “Their message
goes out through all the earth.” What is the message?
Imagine yourself sitting “when the distribution of Communion is finished [and] the [presider] and faithful spend some time praying privately.” The Instruction directs: “A period of sacred silence is observed” (General Instruction, nos. 43, 88).
Suppose at that moment you heard someone quote the words of Ephesians 4:1-13, “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling.”
Wouldn’t you feel that was being realized all around you?
That is the “message [that] goes out through all the earth.” What you are feeling is the Good News heard, accepted, and bearing its fruit, at least for these few moments, in the “unity and peace” of the Kingdom.
Paul continues: “Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.... that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers.” But, no matter what our calling or role is in the body, the reason for all gifts is:
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Isn’t that what we are experiencing as taking place and having taken place, during the time we spend together after Communion, just “being one” with Jesus, with God, and with each other?
It was to bring this about—in this particular assembly at this moment, in the human race as a whole, now and forever—that Matthew wrote his Gospel. It was for this that Jesus came.
Communion is a time to experience it. Communion is a foretaste, a preview of the Kingdom, the “wedding banquet of the Lamb,” when in Christ, at the end of time, all things in heaven and on earth will be united.
The Good News is that Jesus came to “bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one.” In perfect unity and love. As stewards of his kingship, we have accepted responsibility for bringing that about (Ephesians 1:10).
This is the mystery behind the Greeting with which we begin the Mass: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and communion in the Holy Spirit be with you.” What we wish for in the beginning, we experience at the end.
Matthew 9:9-13 is already a preview of the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” When Matthew invited Jesus to dinner, “many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.” Matthew is still inviting.
Initiative: See the Mass as a preview of heaven. Rejoice in all who are there.