On the Call of Matthew.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Call of Matthew.
By the lake of Genesareth, at the landing-place of the boats, and the cross-roads where the highways met, there was a custom-house and in that custom-house there sat a publican, named Matthew. Imagine that you see him at the moment when our Lord, passing by, cast upon him one of those looks which went to the inmost heart, which converted Magdalen and awoke in Peter the deepest contrition. And when you have placed this scene vividly before your eyes, proceed to meditate upon the following points:
1st. The grace of a vocation, which was conferred upon the apostle. Matthew was sitting at the receipt of custom. He was sitting, St. Chrysologus remarks, to indicate that he was heavily laden with the burden of insatiable covetousness, and depressed by the reproaches of his conscience; and, to quote the beautiful words of St. Chrysostom, the irresistible voice of the Redeemer calling him summons this man from the greedy pursuit of worldly gain to follow Him. O gracious call, which so suddenly, so instantaneously transforms a sinner into a just man, a despised publican into an illustrious apostle, an avaricious worldling into an evangelist who treads the world under foot. The charity of the Redeemer, manifested in the gracious vocation of this sinful publican, awakens your astonishment and your admiration; but remember, my soul, that our Lord bestowed the same grace upon you. He called you also from the custom-house of secular life to be His disciple in the state of Holy Orders or in the Religious life. Do not underrate the grace of this vocation. “What shall I render to Thee for this favor?” exclaims the great ascetic, “For it is not given to all that, forsaking all things, they should leave the world and embrace the monastic life.” This privilege has been bestowed on you. Now ask yourself do you consider it as a privilege or do you find it somewhat of a burden?
2d. Consider the prompt obedience of him who was called. Immediately upon hearing the one word: “Follow Me,” the publican rises up, leaving the custom-house, his means of livelihood, his account-books, all the money and other property he possesses, and hastens to follow Him who had nothing of His own. Thus, St. Chrysostom observes, in one and the same incident we behold both the miraculous effect of the all-conquering charity of God, and an example of humble, unquestioning docility in the person of the man who was called. May this apostle also be a model to you; may you learn of him to obey instantly, without hesitation and without delay, when our Lord, either by His secret inspirations or by the voice of your Superior, bids you perform this good work, make that sacrifice, avoid certain occasions of sin. The monk is known by his obedience; the good monk, the good Christian, by his prompt obedience. “One who is truly obedient,” says St. Bernard, “never hesitates.
- He abhors postponement,
- dilatoriness is unknown to him,
- he anticipates eagerly the orders given to him.
- His eyes are always ready to see,
- his ears to hear,
- his tongue to speak,
- his hands to work,
- his feet to run,
- in execution of the command of his Superior;
- he summons all his faculties in order to accomplish the will of his Superior as perfectly as possible.”
You will do well, my soul, to look into the mirror of obedience which St. Bernard here holds up before you.
3d. Consider the joyful gratitude displayed by him whom our Lord called. In the gladness of his heart he prepares a great feast, celebrating the close of his former life and the commencement of his new life by a festive entertainment in honor of his Master, to testify, as St. Augustine remarks, his gratitude towards Him. And it is this joyous thankfulness on the part of the converted sinner that determines Jesus willingly to accept his invitation. Do you therefore, my soul, prepare a like feast for your Lord. Show yourself truly thankful, thankful and joyful in return for your vocation to the service of God.
God does not like to see His servants with gloomy faces. He does not regard with complacency those who serve Him with sadness, discontent, reluctance of heart. St. Francis did not like to see his monks look sad; he wished all the members of his Order to have a cheerful and joyous air, because he regarded joy as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and as a token of the indwelling of God’s grace in their soul. “A secure mind is like a constant feast, we are told in the Proverbs (ch. xv. 15); let the resolution you form to-day as a thanksgiving for the grace of your vocation be to prepare a feast for our Lord by the prompt and cheerful fulfilment of the duties of your calling.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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