Friends, our Gospel for today is the simple but magnificent story of the conversion of Matthew. I urge you to read it and meditate upon it this week, for it’s about you. The Bible says that Jesus told Matthew, “Follow me.” The call of Jesus is meant to get into your mind, and then past your mind into your body, and then through your body into your life, into your most practical decisions.
And then we hear that Matthew “got up and followed him.” The verb used here in the Greek is the same verb used to describe the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead: Matthew rose. Conversion means a transition into a higher life, arising from a preoccupation with the goods of the world and a reorientation to the things of God.
Then we hear what happened after Matthew’s conversion: “While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.” This deeply annoys the Pharisees, who ask of Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” The answer is that Jesus loves sinners, and he doesn’t require perfection before he approaches them.