Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
There are some activities we would rather avoid. One for most of us would be the preparation of our tax returns. Trying to gather all the necessary information, receipts, payment stubs and charitable donations, just to mention a few, is a true chore. Then there is the payment of our tax, which can hurt the pocketbook, and even eliminate the much-needed vacation we had planned to take with our excess savings. We certainly are careful on what we commit to our filings, always wanting to avoid a federal audit, which can be another pain.
Perhaps you are wondering why I am mentioning tax returns? Today is the feast of St. Matthew who is known to be a tax collector, an evangelist and one of the twelve apostles. Tax collectors in the days of Jesus were not men of good repute. In fact, they helped themselves to the collection. But Jesus saw fit to call him, which was an opportunity to change his life.
The great story of St. Matthew is the suddenness of his conversion: “As Jesus passed from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the custom post. He said to him follow me, and he got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9) When Matthew wrote his Gospel, he still must have been reflecting on the impact Jesus made on his life. It’s difficult for me to imagine an immediate change of heart due to the call of one man, to abandon everything and not look back. Jesus is still calling his followers today, offering them a chance to reform their lives and strike out on a new path.
I have been a witness to moments of transformation in the lives of individuals. They were compelled to be different. I think of the rich young man who, after the invitation to follow Jesus, walked away sad for his possessions were many. He could not surrender. What is it that we hold onto that prevents us from following Jesus into a deeper relationship? St. Matthew never returned to the custom table, and it was never recorded that he was demanded to fill out the tax returns for the Apostles, but he did tell us about the accounting that would be demanded from us. Matthew 25:40 “Amen I say to you whatever you did for these least brethren of mine, you did for me.”
Jesus calls us like St. Matthew; follow me and LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the September 21, 2021 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.