September 21, 2017
by Larry Hopp
Creighton University's Energy Technology Program
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist
Lectionary: 643

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

Praying Ordinary Time

What is your “calling”?  Is it the life you are currently living, or could it be something entirely different, something more, something perhaps even a little frightening?

As we reflect upon Saint Matthew, that haunting question certainly comes to mind.  He likely was very comfortable with his tax collection career, maybe even living up to the shady reputation that followed that profession.  Do you suppose he felt like he was fulfilling his calling?

But before we delve deeper into the message found in Matthew’s life, today’s readings take us first to Paul and his message to the church at Ephesus.  Throughout this inspiring letter, we are challenged to envision our life – our calling – through an eternal prospective of God sized goals.  Chapter 4 begins with the profound challenge to live our lives in a “manner worthy of the call” we have received, which of course begs the question of just what that call really is for each of us. Not surprisingly, the rest of the book of Ephesians goes into great detail answering that very question.  We are to live our lives as Jesus lived his: with humility, gentleness, love and patience, all with grace for building up the body of Christ. 

While specifically defining our Holy calling would be a worthy meditation, today’s readings seem to take us in a different direction – to consider who gets picked for the important “callings” and to consider how to respond to God’s call.  Paul’s life certainly provides insight into the challenge of recognizing one’s true calling and perhaps even more striking into the response to that calling.  Like most of us, Paul was living a comfortable life doing what he thought was best.  He had respect within his community where he used his power to severely persecute anyone who believed differently.  The thought never occurred to him that he might be completely outside of God’s calling.  God chose to turn Paul’s world upside-down with temporary blindness – a very effective method of grasping one’s attention.  As Paul’s eyes were opened to his true calling, he went on to amazing accomplishments through the power of God. 

This piece of Paul’s story reminds me that even a sinner like me can accomplish amazing things through Christ once I tune-in to my true calling. It really should be quite simple to stay focused on my savior and His calling for me.  As the Psalms continually remind us,  “the firmaments proclaim his handiwork” throughout all the earth – a loud, constant reminder if only I open my eyes and heart to that powerful message that we do serve the God of the universe.

So returning back to Saint Matthew – here we find another man who was living a comfortable life pursuing what he thought was his calling.  I suspect he could never have imagined what he was about to accomplish that fateful day when Jesus passed by and offered him the “follow me” invitation.  Matthew simply got up, on the spot, and followed Jesus – a simple, courageous response.  Was Matthew an entirely unlikely candidate for a calling leading to becoming an apostle and powerful evangelist? Of course he was, just like Paul was an unlikely candidate for his calling and just like I am an unlikely candidate for my calling.  Yet as Jesus reminds us throughout His holy word, “those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do”.  He can and does use the weak to accomplish truly amazing things through His amazing power.  How, then will I respond?

Dear Lord, open my eyes and heart to fully comprehend the calling you have so patiently laid out for me.  Give me the courage to fully grasp the truth that my calling does not depend upon my weak, pathetic abilities, but rather completely on your grace and power.   
In Jesus’s holy, holy name - amen.

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