Immersed in Christ: September 21, 2020
Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
also, Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial (Psalm 19) declares Matthew, and all evangelists and apostles, faithful stewards of the Good News entrusted to them: “Their message goes out through all the earth.”
In Ephesians 4:1-13 Paul is “pleading” with all of us “to lead a life worthy of the calling you have received.” He mentions some key virtues, then passes rapidly to what he wants to stress: faithful stewardship.
This is shown first in preserving the unity so vital to the Church: “Make every effort to preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force.”
Secondly, Paul pleads for fidelity in carrying out the mission “each of us was given... according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
Paul echoes Peter in begging us, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” We are responsible for “building up the Church” and bringing all of human society under the reign of God. 1
This returns us naturally to the theme of unity. Paul begs us to use our gifts “until we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son.” We are called to be one, not in some natural way, through having a common background of experiences, beliefs or values, but in a way that is a mystery: the mystery of divine life revealing itself as a communion of divine faith, hope and love, “communion in the Holy Spirit.”
This unity culminates in the mysterious unification of all people to “form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature.”
In Christ, at the end of time, all things in heaven and on earth will be “united,” “gathered up,” “summed up,” “recapitulated,” “brought together under a single Head.” God’s goal is to “bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship.” As stewards of his kingship, we are responsible for bringing that about. 2
This is the mystery behind what we wish for each other in the Mass Greeting, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and communion in the Holy Spirit be with you.”
Matthew 9:9-13 tells how Matthew himself received the call to do this, a call that led him, eventually, to write his Gospel. Jesus found him in his tax-collector’s booth, isolated and ostracized by his fellow Jews for collaborating with the Romans. Jesus expressed neither reproach nor pity. He just met Matthew’s eyes through the window of his booth and said, “Follow me.”
That was all it took. Matthew followed and Matthew wrote. Now we see, “His message goes out through all the earth.”
Initiative: Respond as Matthew did. Devote your life to being and working with Jesus. You don’t have to leave your job; just the way you may be doing it.
1 1Peter 4:10. 2 Ephesians 1:10. This is the NAB (1970) version. The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1958) translates this as “to unite all things in Christ under one head,” and explains: “The verb anekephalaiosasthai literally means to place at the top of a column the sum of figures that have been added.”