Thursday, September 21, 2006

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist
Sinners Yet Called

Readings: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5; Matthew 9:9-13

The unity in diversity of the Body of Christ is what is highlighted in the first reading today. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit, we are told, even as the writer emphasizes that each one of us… has been given his own share of grace. In other words, each one of us needs to exercise the particular gifts that we have received for the common good, to build up the unity of the whole Body. But this is not an easy ideal to achieve, is it? It’s not always easy simultaneously to express our own individuality as well as to accommodate the uniqueness of others.

Some help might be found in the call story of Matthew. Here we also notice sameness and difference. On the one hand, we know of no other apostle who was called exactly the way Matthew was – from a customs house. And yet, we also know that when Jesus says I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners, he is speaking not only of Matthew but of all Christians. Like Matthew, we are all sinners and yet called – to borrow a Jesuit turn of phrase. Perhaps it is when we grow in the grace of this sense of being a sinner and yet called that we also learn to balance between the unity and diversity of the Body of Christ. What do I mean?

Some days, I may find myself reveling too much in the fact that I am called. Those are the times when I tend to focus on my own individuality at the expense of others – to forget to allow others to exercise their own God-given gifts. Those are also the times when I need to remember that others are called as well. More importantly, perhaps, I need to remember that, like my other sisters and brothers, I am also a sinner. Like all of them, my call is but an expression of the gracious, unmerited love of God.

At other times, I may find myself too timid and tentative. I may tend to focus too much on my unworthiness and weakness – shying away from all responsibility and opportunities for service. At those times, I need to remember – or to allow God to remind me – that sinner though I am, God blesses me with my own unique gifts, and calls me to share these with others.

What are your reflections about our being sinners and yet called to a Christian life of unity in diversity?

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