FRIDAY THE TWENTY-FIRST OF SEPTEMBER, 2018
* Matthew *
Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled.
My Lord, fill it.
I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.
I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent,
that my love may go out to my neighbour.
I do not have a strong and firm faith;
at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether.
O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you.
In you, I have sealed the treasure of all I have.
I am poor; you are rich
and came to be merciful to the poor.
I am a sinner; you are upright.
With me, there is an abundance of sin;
in you is the fullness of righteousness.
Therefore, I will remain with you
of whom I can receive,
but to whom I may not give.
( Martin Luther, 1483-1546 )
Come, you sinners, poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity joined with power.
He is able; he is willing: doubt no more.
Ho! you needy; come, and welcome; God’s free bounty glorify.
True belief, and true repentance, every grace that brings us nigh,
Without money, come to Jesus Christ, and buy.
Let not conscience make you linger: nor of fitness fondly dream.
All the fitness he requires is, to feel your need of him:
this he gives you; it is the Spirit’s rising beam.
Come ye weary, heavy laden, bruised and mangled by the Fall;
if you tarry, till you’re better, you will never come at all.
Not the righteous; sinners, Jesus came to call.
View him grovelling in the Garden; lo, your maker prostrate lies.
On the bloody tree behold him; hear him cry before he dies,
"It is finished." Sinner, will not this suffice?
Lo, the incarnate God, ascended, heads the merit of his blood.
Venture on him, venture wholly; let not other trust intrude.
None but Jesus can do helpless sinners good.
Saints and angels joined in concert, sing the praises of the Lamb;
while the blissful seats of heaven sweetly echo with his name.
Hallelujah! Sinners here may sing the same.
( Joseph Hart, 1712-1768 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Should five percent appear too small
be thankful I don't take it all,
'cause I'm the taxman;
yeah, I'm the taxman.
( George Harrison )
If the Beatles could ride this to number one in 1966, you have got to know that people are ambivalent about the men and women who collect our taxes. In the case of Matthew, there is no ambivalence at all. He was hated by people, despised for collaborating with the Roman Army's occupation force which had conquered and subdued Israel beginning around 63BC. Tax collectors were required to collect whatever taxes the Romans wanted levied, but in addition, they were free to enrich themselves by requiring more. They were corrupt, made their wealth on their own people’s pain and of not much use to any Jew who was hoping for an independent Jewish nation.
What are the spiritual inclinations of such a one? How many people would be pariahs in our congregations today just because of what they do? Jesus invites this excluded soul to become a follower. Not only a follower but a teller of tales, a writer of good news, a holy apostle.
What is mind-boggling about the story of Matthew’s calling, is less for me the call itself and more the dinner in Matthew’s house that Jesus attends that leaves me breathless. A gathering of “many tax collectors and sinners” to quote Matthew himself (9:10). In Franco Zefferelli’s movie adaptation of the life of Jesus, he focuses on Peter. Jesus has already crossed the threshold of the door and is sitting with Matthew’s friends. Peter, however, is standing just outside the threshold, waging an interior battle . Will he enter or retreat?
What an image of the church of Jesus. The outcasts and sinners at the table, feasting. The pious, and prudish missing the feast because they can’t stand the company!
“Why does your teacher eat with these people?” they ask.
What makes Saint Laika’s holy for me is that no one is ever turned away. Whatever the condition of your soul, whatever doubts assail you, whatever theology you choose to practice, you are welcome here and Jesus, Lord of Virtual Reality, is here, too. Let Matthew lead you into this place.
Scripture. In the ninth chapter of "Matthew," verses nine and ten, we read:
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.
... for peace in the world.
... for all people, especially those in positions of leadership and authority, to be always striving for peaceful solutions in all situations. DETAILS
... for tax collectors and those involved in deciding how our taxes are spent, may that always be on things which are for the good of God's creation.
... for accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, joiners, custom agents, security guards, perfumers and all people, places and institutions that claim Matthew the Apostle as their patron.
... for us sinners, that we might be saved.
... for the people of Armenia, Belize and Malta who celebrate their national days today.
... for those who drowned when a ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized on Lake Victoria, Tanzania; for the hundreds who are still missing and for those working to find them; for those who wait for news of their loved ones.
... for those killed or injured in a shooting incident at a warehouse in Perryman, Maryland, USA; for the healing of people who feel compelled to commit such acts of violence. DETAILS
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From a sermon by the Bede the Venerable, c.672-735:
Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, 'Follow me.'
Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men.
He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him, "Follow me."
This following meant imitating the pattern of his life, not just walking after him.
Saint John tells us, "Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."
And he rose and followed him.
There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.
As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.
This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit. To see a deeper understanding of the great celebration Matthew held at his house, we must realise that he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love.
Our Saviour attests to this, "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."
On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him. He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet.
Almighty God, your son, our saviour, called a despised tax collector to become one of his apostles. Help us, like Matthew, to respond to the transforming call of Jesus Christ, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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