The talents and skills we can use to serve God
A Reflection for the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and evangelist
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him. (Mt 9:9)
I appreciate the juxtaposition of today’s first reading and today’s Gospel. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes, “live in a manner worthy of the call you have received” and then elaborates on the many ways in which to live out this call. We are able to find our unique responses to this call because we know that “grace was given to each of us” according to the measure of Christ’s gift. It is comforting to hear that our gifts work in unison in order to build up the kingdom of God together.
But it’s easy to forget this. It is all too easy to think that there is a singular way to be holy, that there is only one way to follow this call—and that we are not doing it right. That we are too flawed and sinful to be of use to God. And we are flawed and sinful. But the story of Matthew in today’s Gospel shows us that we still can be used for good. We don’t have to be perfect to be of use to the Kingdom. So often, as we consider what talents and skills we hope to use to serve God, our minds leap first to grand ideas of holiness, great gestures and sacrifices. Matthew shows us another way: Get up. Jesus asked him to follow him, and Matthew simply did exactly that. He didn’t say, “But first…” He didn’t say, “Well maybe, but…” And then he got together with a group of other sinful people and talked with someone who wanted them to be better, sure, but who also loved them just as they were.
Following Christ does not require perfection; it requires action. It requires us to pay attention and to listen for that call that leads us to closer community with other imperfect people with whom we can work together to build up the kingdom of God.