Today we remember and give thanks for Saint Matthew, an apostle and evangelist, called into companionship with Jesus and sent out to share the good news. Matthew’s story reminds us Jesus calls and sends all kinds of people. Matthew worked as a tax collector. Tax collectors were considered traitors to the Jewish people because they worked for the occupying Roman Empire. In league with the enemy, tax collectors were outcasts, barred from Jewish community. Even more striking than uneducated fishermen, Jesus invited Matthew.
Jesus particularly liked and looked out for the least and last on the religious leaders’ list. Especially in Jesus’ day, eating together was a sign of acceptance and belonging. Companion literally means sharing bread. The Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them directly: “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’”