Getting up can be difficult – getting up in the morning, getting up from the couch, getting up to help someone. I like sitting down myself. Getting up is a big change; a change of posture, certainly, but also a change of ATTENTION, a change of INTENTION. One moment I am doing one thing, the next moment I have gotten up to do SOMETHING ELSE. It’s human nature to want to remain where we are, to be undisturbed from whatever we are doing. Change is hard. Change requires a decision and a choice.
Matthew was sitting. He was at his customs post, waiting to collect more money, probably counting the money he had. Maybe he was figuring sums as he sat. Maybe he was sitting there figuring out how to find real fulfillment in his life, we don’t know. His Gospel doesn’t tell us, and doesn’t flatter him in any way. It tells the truth in such simplicity we might miss the monumentalness of it all:
“As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.”
He GOT UP. He made a decision and a choice to change. He changed his attention and his intention. One moment he was doing one thing, the next moment he got up to do something else. He responded to a call. He literally rose to the occasion.
Clearly, he was moved by grace to do this. Clearly, he saw something in this carpenter from Galilee that promised more than the money he had been counting. And clearly, he wanted to share this with his friends (who were clearly tax collectors and sinners) because he invited them to dinner with Jesus. And Jesus’ answer to the ever-skeptical Pharisees gives us some insight into the reason for the calling of Matthew: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Matthew wasn’t perfect; but Jesus would perfect him.
Three lessons blaze up like fire from this short Gospel:
First, God does not wait for us to get all our spiritual affairs in order and to do everything right before he calls us! He calls us, the spiritually sick and imperfect, to follow him so that we can be healed and perfected by his Presence.
Second, we must respond to the call of Christ by GETTING UP and making a decision and a choice to change our attention and our intention. We must turn from one thing to another, from a lesser thing to the best thing, which is the will of God for our lives.
Third, others may question this change in us. No matter. Our witness to the mercy of God will outshine any ridicule or questions. For our part, when we are called, we must GET UP and follow wherever He leads. This is our YES to God.
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com
Feature Image Credit: Il ragazzo, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/14240-san-mateo-evangelista