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LEAVING ALL TO PREACH CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, September 21, 2013
Eph. 4:1-7, 11-13, Ps. 18, Matt. 9:9-13


"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.' And he rose and followed him" (Matt. 9:9).


Here Jesus calls a tax collector, a man who was an outcast in Jewish society. Nonetheless Jesus called him and made him his apostle. Jesus' ministry was a ministry of calling sinners to repentance, conversion, and salvation. He said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:9), and "Those who are well have no need of a physician put those who are sick" (Matt. 9:12), and "The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). St. Paul says the same. "The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). Christ leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness to go in search of the one sheep that went astray, and when he finds it, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that never went astray (Matt. 18:12-13). Such was the ministry of Jesus, and so should our ministry also be, one of seeking out those who are lost. In this we see Jesus' missionary spirit and orientation.


Jesus is the Savior of the world. He came to die in our place, to be punished in our place on the cross for our sins to pay our price of punishment for them to reconcile us to God, in this way satisfying divine justice on our behalf because of our sins, thus propitiating the righteous wrath of God against us for our sins (Rom. 1:18; 5:9). He came to give his life for his sheep (John 10:11), and "greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13 NKJV). "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).


We cannot save people by laying down our life for them, as Jesus did, but we can minister to them the salvation that comes from the merits of Christ's death on the cross. We minister this forgiveness and salvation in the preached word and in the sacraments. "For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:5). For "we have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:7). Our ministry is to minister the grace and redemption that Jesus Christ brought into the world through his death on the cross and resurrection.


We can also learn something by seeing how St. Matthew left all to follow Jesus. He left his work, his livelihood, his whole former life and gave himself completely to Jesus with all his heart. This is how we too are to leave everything of this world to follow Christ with all our heart. Thus do we enter the kingdom of God, that is, at the price of all else, as the man who discovered a treasure buried in a field had to sell all he possessed to be able to buy that field and so obtain the treasure. In this way we obtain and enter into the kingdom of God, at the price of all else, finding all our delight henceforth in the Lord, loving him with all our heart (Mark 12:30), without dividing our heart among the pleasures of the world that make us forget God.

 

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