September 21, 2017 – Feast of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9-13)
When you read any of the Gospels, it becomes quite clear that people were fascinated by Jesus – both men and women, Jews and Gentiles, Pharisees and fishermen, kings and servants.
The Pharisees, the most learned class of the Jews, had an odd fascination with Him. Jesus was an upstart preacher, the son of a carpenter. He did not have the pedigree to be of any interest to the Pharisees. Why did they care with whom He ate? Why were they watching Him so closely? Was it that He made them question how they themselves were living their lives? Was it because He made them feel uncomfortable?
Other men, who had a job or a trade, seemed willing to leave it all behind and follow Jesus. Just because He said, Follow me? What really made them drop their fishing nets and push away from their customs posts? What was so fascinating to them about Jesus? Was it the realization that there must be more to their lives than what they were experiencing?
Then there were the sinners. Jesus was always surrounded by sinners, who like the others, were fascinated by Him. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. He called them out on their sins. So why hang around someone like that? Why follow a guy you know is going to challenge you on the way you live your life? Perhaps it is because of the other messages that permeated those challenges – His messages of love, forgiveness, and hope.
Jesus is still fascinating after all of these years. The reasons have changed very little: He makes us feel uncomfortable, makes it known that our lives could be so much richer, and calls us on the carpet for our sins, while offering love, forgiveness, and hope.
Fascinating stuff, don’t you think?
He is saying, “Follow me” to you. Will you follow Him eagerly like Matthew and the other sinners did, or will you point at Him and criticize Him from a distance like the Pharisees?