We remember and celebrate this day the call of Matthew by Jesus. In Matthew 9:9 we read, “Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth.” Perhaps the most startling words in the entire account are those that indicate Jesus “saw him.”
It would have been easy for Jesus not to see Matthew. It would have been more efficient to walk on by and not bother. After all Matthew was a tax collector: a collaborator with the Roman government and understood as an extortionist who was getting rich off of his own people. Furthermore, we know that tax collectors were abhorred by the most pious of Jewish groups, the Pharisees. Yet Jesus did see Matthew and dared to call him into his circle of disciples in order that he might follow.
Who do we not see? Who would it be easy to walk on by, not recognize or acknowledge? Who do we choose not to value? Often when disasters strike such as in hurricanes, or even in our difficult conversations regarding immigration, it is precisely those who are too often the unseen who are suddenly exposed, particularly the poor. It is my hope that in our faith communities we are working very hard to see as clearly as Jesus sees and draw into his circle of care those to whom we need to respond, in word and in action.
As Matthew 9:13 reminds us quoting Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Our religious devotion and our life as a Church mean little to nothing unless we too are willing to see as Jesus sees, with mercy, as we respect the dignity of every human being and act accordingly.