September 21, 2016

Matthew

September 21, 2016:  St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

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Pope Francis
Appeal for peace at World Day of Prayer for Peace:  Thirty years ago, religious representatives from all over met here at Pope John Paul II's invitation affirm the bond between peace and authentic religious attitude.  Since then, many have come together in dialogue, prayer, and friendship.  We bring about encounters through dialogue and oppose violence and abuse of religion that seeks to justify war and terrorism.   Yet war still painfully wounds many.  War harms the world, leaving sorrows and hate; everyone loses.  We've asked God to grant peace to the world.  We need to pray constantly for peace.  God’s name is peace.  One who justifies terrorism, violence, or war in God’s name is not on God’s path; war in religion's name is war against religion. 
We hear the voice of the poor, children, youth, women, and all those suffering due to war.  May their cry be heeded.  Urge leaders to defuse the causes of war:  lust for power and money, arms dealers' greed, vendettas....  We need to eradicate the causes of conflicts:  poverty, injustice, inequality, exploitation, contempt for human life.  May the world become a family of peoples.  May we build authentic peace, attentive to people's needs, able to prevent conflict through cooperation, encounter, and dialogue.  Nothing is impossible if we pray.  Let's renew our commitment to be artisans of peace, by God's help....
At closing ceremony:  We're pilgrims seeking peace.  We carry, and place before God, the hopes and sorrows of many.  We desire to witness to peace.  We need to pray for peace:  peace is God’s gift; we must plead for, embrace, and build it with God’s help.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”  We come together to work for peace:  these are not only physical movements, but movements of the soul, spiritual responses to overcome what's closed and become open to God and others.  God calls us to confront the great sickness of indifference, a virus that paralyzes, renders us lethargic and insensitive, eats at the heart of religious fervor, and gives rise to a new and sad paganism.  We can't remain indifferent.  The world thirsts for peace.  War causes suffering and poverty; war shatters lives.  We want to give voice to all who suffer, who aren't heard; they know there's no tomorrow in war, and that violence destroys the joy of life.
We don't have weapons but believe in the humble strength of prayer.  Our thirst for peace has become a prayer that wars, terrorism, and violence end.  We seek peace that's not just the absence of war or a result of negotiations, compromises, or bargaining, but  the result of prayer.”  We seek in God, source of communion, the peace humanity thirsts for; it doesn't flow from pride, personal interests, profit at any cost, or the arms trade.
Our differences don't cause conflict, or coldness between us.  We've prayed side by side and for each other.  “The link between an authentic religious attitude and peace has become evident to all.”  “Whoever uses religion to foment violence contradicts religion’s deepest inspiration.”  Violence in all forms doesn't represent “the nature of religion; it's its antithesis and contributes to its destruction.”  Peace alone, not war, is holy; God's name can't be used to justify violence!
We've pleaded peace, prayed that consciences be mobilized to defend the sacredness of life, promote peace, and care for creation.  Prayer and acts of cooperation help us break from the logic of conflict and reject anger.  Prayer and the desire to work together are directed towards true peace, not the calm of one who avoids difficulties and turns away, not the cynicism of those who wash their hands of others' problems, not the virtual approach of those who judge from a keyboard without opening their eyes to others' needs and dirtying their hands for the needy.  We immerse ourselves in situations and give first place to those who suffer, to healing conflicts from within, to following ways of goodness, to rejecting shortcuts offered by evil, to patiently engaging processes of peace, with God’s help.
Peace means Forgiveness, the fruit of conversion and prayer, born from within making it possible to heal old wounds.  It means Welcome, openness to dialogue, overcoming closed-mindedness.  It means Cooperation, active exchange with another, who's a gift and not a problem, one to build a better world with.  It denotes Education, a call to learn the art of communion, to acquire a culture of encounter, to purify our conscience of temptations to violence and stubbornness contrary to God and human dignity.

We believe and hope in a fraternal world.  We want people to gather and promote harmony, especially where there's conflict.  Our future consists in living together.  We're called to free ourselves from distrust, fundamentalism, and hate.  We should be artisans of peace in our prayers and actions.  We must be bridges of dialogue, mediators of peace.  We pray that leaders seek and promote peace, looking beyond their particular interests:  may they hear God’s appeal, the cry of the poor, and the healthy expectations of younger generations. “Peace is a workshop open to all, a universal responsibility.  Let us reaffirm our “yes” to being builders of the peace God wishes and humanity thirsts for.
General Audience:  We're reminded to be merciful as our Father is.  God’s revelation is his love for humanity, culminating in Jesus’ death on the Cross.  Only God can express such love, but Jesus’ call for us to be as merciful as the Father is a summons to be signs, channels, and witnesses to his mercy.  The Church’s mission is to be God’s sacrament of mercy.  God asks us to be his witnesses by opening our hearts to his mercy and sharing that mercy towards all, especially the suffering, offering the world a glimpse of Christ.  We especially show his mercy when we pardon one another, for we express God’s love and help one another on the way of conversion.  Jesus invites us to give freely; he gave us all we have, and we'll receive only as we give.  Merciful love is the only path; by it we can make the Father's mercy known.
Read
  • Eph 4:1-7, 11-13  Live worthy of your call, with humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, peace, hope.  One Lord, faith, baptism, God, Father gave each of us grace to be Apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastors/teachers..., for ministry, unity, faith, knowledge of Son.
  • Ps 19:2-5  "Their message goes out through all the earth."  The heavens declare God's glory, handiwork.
  • Mt 9:9-13  Jesus to Matthew:  “Follow me.”  He followed.  Tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus.  Pharisees:  “Why?”  “The sick need a physician.  I came to call sinners.”
Reflect
      The Calling of St. Matthew/ Caravaggio
    • Creighton:  In today's gospel, Jesus refers to himself as the physician sent to be with sinners.  He called Matthew, and calls us, to follow him.  How do we follow Jesus in a world that lacks peace?  Paul tells us to live worthy of the our call, with humility, gentleness, and patience, to bear with each other through love, to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  On this International Day of Peace, may we help make peace in our lives and in the world.     
    • One Bread, One Body:  "A traitor converts!"  To a Jew, tax collector was a despicable job; they usually were violent and unjust with the poor, they sold out to the Romans, and their association with the Romans kept them from participating in the Jewish community and worship.  Good Jews didn't associate with them.  So Jesus' call of Matthew was either a revelation of God's grace or an abomination.  Matthew's call and conversion tells us God can convert a hard heart, nothing is impossible with God, mercy triumphs over judgment, grace surpasses sin, God chooses the despised, and where there's life, there's hope.
    • Passionist:  Matthew was one of the first Jesus called, likely one of the better educated, His gospel has a stamp of Jewishness; he was likely intent on establishing himself as a loyal son of Abraham despite his occupation.  He may have seen Jesus' call as a way to reintegrate himself with his Jewish background.  He's an example of the 1st-reading theme of unity amid diversity.  His gospel reflects the relationship of the early church with the Jewish faith, noting details of this relationship....
      The Calling of St. Matthew/ Brugghen
    • DailyScripture.net:  "I desire mercy, not sacrifice":  Jesus' call of Matthew changed Matthew from a self-serving profiteer to a God-serving apostle."  Jesus came to each one at a time when he knew that they'd respond.  He called Matthew when he was assured he'd surrender.  Similarly, he called Paul when he was vulnerable, like a hunter going after his quarry, for he who knows our hearts and secrets knows when we're ready to respond.  At the beginning Matthew was hardened, so Jesus waited till his miracles and spreading fame to call him, knowing he'd been softened" (John Chrysostom, paraphrased)
    When the Pharisees challenged Jesus' eating with sinners, Jesus said a doctor only needs to go to the sick; he sought out those in greatest need.  Jesus came as divine physician and good shepherd to care for and restore his people.  The orthodox, preoccupied with their religious practice, neglected the people who needed care.  Jesus said he came to call sinners.  Ironically the orthodox were as needy as those they despised.  Jesus quoted "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."
    Dress legend
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  Live worthy of the 'call' you received (1st reading); I came to 'call' sinners (gospel)
    • 'Clock' tie bar:  Live with patience (1st reading)
    • 'Bear' tie bar:  'Bear' with one another through love (1st reading)
    • 'Dove' pin:  Preserve the unity of the Spirit... (1st reading)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  ...through the bond of peace (1st reading)
    • 'OneLife LA' button:  One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father (1st reading)
    • 'Silverware' tie bar:  Jesus was at table in Matthew's house... (gospel)
    • 'Doctor's office' tie:  Sick people need a doctor (gospel)
    • 'Boundless mercy' pin:  "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (gospel)
    • Red shirt:  Liturgical color for apostles' feasts