Pope Francis and Saint Matthew


First, I don’t know what’s happening, but Rocco Palmo is not exactly on top of his game with posting the full texts of Francis’ homilies and speeches in Cuba.  You can find them, though, at Edward Pentin’s blog for the Register.

Second, I was about to write a whole long thing about the special relationship Pope Francis has with Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist, whose feast day is today.  Lo and behold, this post says it all better than I ever could have done.  Please take the time to reflect on it, as it reveals a very important side of Francis that you won’t often see in press reports.

Here, though, is the text of Saint Bede the Venerable referenced in the article above, part of the Office of Readings in today’s Liturgy of the Hours (mostly translated by me, since the 1980’s breviary isn’t very accurate):

Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me. Jesus saw Matthew not so much with the sight of bodily perception as with that of his inner mercy.  He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him by having mercy on him and choosing him, he said to him: Follow me. But in “Follow me”, he really said “Imitate me”:  “follow” not so much by how he directed his feet as by how he carried out his way of life. Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

And he rose and followed him. It should not be surprising that, at the first sound of the Lord’s command, the tax collector abandoned the earthly wealth that used to worry him and, neglecting his work, attached himself to that band of men which, he thought, had no riches at all. On the outside, the Lord himself used words to call Matthew; on the inside, he taught him how to follow by an invisible impulse, flooding his mind with the spiritual light of grace by which Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had the ability to give incorruptible treasures of heaven.

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 an example of repentance and forbearance to many tax collectors and sinners. And as a beautiful and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations, no sooner was Matthew converted than he brought with him a flock of sinners to salvation; he began his duty of evangelizing, which he would come to fulfill with great growth in merit and power, while he was still in the first rudiments of faith. Furthermore, if we want to see what Matthew has done with deeper understanding, not only did he provide a material banquet for the Lord in his earthly residence, but far more pleasingly, he prepared a banquet for him in his own heart through faith and love, as the Lord himself attests to it when he says: 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 when we freely make our assent to his promptings, whether they come secretly or openly, and when we give ourselves over to completing the things that we know we must do. And Christ enters so that we might dine with him and he with us, for he dwells in the hearts of his elect through the grace of his love, so that he may ever refresh them by the light of his presence insofar as they advance more and more in their longing for the higher things, and so that he may nourish their zeal for the things of heaven as though it were for a greatly pleasing meal.


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