One of the easiest traps in our life, today, is to acquire Cheap Popularity!
‘Popularism’ is a bane which affects many areas of our life.
… to undermine values
… to forsake principles
… to abandon relations
… to disown doctrines
… and even to dilute ideologies
>> Just to gain some cheap and shoddy popularity!
But Jesus came to the world…
>> Not to seek Cheap popularity…
… rather in quest of Precious Sinners
>> Not to acquire instant Glory…
… rather in granting Everlasting Peace!
>> Not to please People…
… rather to Honour God!
Jesus was clear in His Mission: To seek the wayward, to find the lost, to grant peace to sinners!
This Mission of the Lord would make Him lose His popularity ratings & reputed recognitions!
But Jesus dared…
… to prioritize Principles over Popularity
… choosing Reconciliation over good Reputation!
The Gospel today begins with the verse:
“…Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me!” (Mt 9:9)
For the religious elite of the Society, this calling of Matthew, the Tax Collector was a shocking experience!
>> Tax Collectors were among the most hated people in the Jewish Society.
Tax collectors were generally despised and tainted and stained on three different aspects:
1. Nationally Traitors
A tax collector, “sold himself”, to the foreign Roman government, and was a betrayer of the Nation.
>> One of the top-most nation-betrayers!
2. Morally Corrupt
Each tax collector had the right from the Roman government to gather taxes.
The more he gathered, the more he could keep!
>> One of the top-most dishonest people!
c. Religiously Unclean:
The constant contact of the tax collectors with the Gentiles made them religiously suspect.
>> One of the top-most impure class!
And it is this Matthew, a tax collector…
… that Jesus invites to “Follow Him”!
>> An unpopular approach indeed!
But the Lord is least bothered of human appreciation and public popularity!
>> He came to Seek the Lost….and gather the scattered ones!
And this offer of the Lord, was gladly welcomed by Matthew..
He Opened himself to the Love of the Lord….
1. He opened His heart:
Matthew became a new person.
Accepting Jesus, meant…
… turning away from his old-ways
… forsaking a good deal of income
… rejecting some of his corrupt business people
2. He Opened His Home:
Matthew was excited to share his new-found Love, with others too.
The transformation in one person, became an opportunity, for many others…
… to experience God’s enterprising love
…. and be challenged to undergo a change!
3. He opened his hands:
Matthew also opened his hands & worked for the Lord.
“It could be said, that when Jesus called Matthew, he left his job to follow Christ, but he took along with him, his pen!”
>> And this would later help him to pen the Gospel…the Gospel according to St Matthew!
The Call of Matthew, was Jesus’ way of telling that things happen in the Kingdom of God…
… not for the Sake of Popularity!
Rather, the Kingdom is an Invitation and a Home to all who find themselves…
… lost, least, broken, rejected, seeking, disturbed!
We all are in one way or the other, facing some of these problems or difficulties in life..
>> Let these not discourage us…
As the saying goes:
Never say, “GOD, I have a big problem!” but instead, “Hey Problem, I have a big GOD!”
The Lord is ever-ready to welcome us.
>> He is least bothered of what others think or criticize!!
>> He values our lives much more than losing popularity!
Yes, We are more precious to Him, than popularity!
>> He Loves us!
>> He Values us!
>> He Longs for us!
We all can find…
… rest in His Heart
… welcome in His Home
… and strength in His Hands!
Pope Benedict XVI says:
“If you follow the will of God, in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge…!
>> Go on, trusting, in the One that loves you.”
Let us Follow the Lord closely….
… and like Mathew, give our hearts, our homes and our hands – our everything – to Him!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS