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expansive word | National Catholic journalist



“I have not come to call for the righteous, but for sinners” (Matthew 9:13).

Eph 4: 1-7, 11-19; Matthew 9: 9-13

Saint Matthew, apostle and evangelist

Today’s commemoration of Saint Matthew, the apostle and evangelist, probably celebrates two different people. Matthew, the tax collector and apostle, may have been the source of a collection of Aramaic sayings of Jesus, but most scholars believe that the Gospel of Matthew, composed in Greek a generation later for a Christian Jewish community in Syria, was written by another person. called Matthew the Evangelist.

This historical fact reminds us that the formation of the gospels has been a long, multi-layered process over time involving many sources, both oral and written, and many contributors as preachers and listeners who realized how Jesus had fulfilled the prophets already important in the scriptures. Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have gathered this material for their religious communities to proclaim the faith that we share today. They are brilliant and inspired authors who have created works designed to inspire believers to grow in their faith training by adapting and applying the stories and words of Jesus to their own lives and to changing circumstances.

The scriptures are living voices, not just documents. We could say that by sharing the daily readings we are continuing this process of invoking the presence of Jesus in our own lives and communities. We are part of a living extension of the unfolding revelation of God’s message in the world today.

An example of this expansive process is how Pope Francis describes his own conversion experience with a quote from a commentary on Matthew and a painting by Italian artist Caravaggio. The Pope explained how the Latin motto on his coat of arms, Miserando atque eligendo, (“Having mercy on me, he chose me”) captures his own call by divine mercy as a young man. He was suddenly prompted to go to confession, and at that point he made the decision to enter the priesthood.

In Caravaggio’s painting, “The Call of Matthew,” one of the Pope’s favorites, Matthew is seated in a tavern when Jesus enters and points to him, overwhelming him with mercy. When he was elected pope, Francis made divine mercy the central theme of his service to the universal Church, a decision that shared with us his own conversion and proclaimed the importance of mercy. In this way, an evangelical story sent a wave of influence on the move that reached the whole world.

The same potential for inspiration touches each of us as we open our hearts to the Word. It sets in motion graces that often go beyond us in the lives of others. The gospel is preached when we share its influence through our words and example. The power of the scriptures leaves the printed page and the word and takes action. Even though our influence is small, even undetected, it is still part of the greater mystery of grace at work in the world. Thus, by reading the Word daily, we all become both apostles and evangelists.



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