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PRAYER TO ST MATTHEW, EVANGELIST

ST MATTHEW, PATRON SAINT OF BOOKKEEPERS, REVENUE COMMISSIONERS AND ACCOUNTANTS

At the time that Jesus summoned him to follow Him, Matthew was a tax-gatherer for the Romans. His profession was hateful to the Jews because it reminded them of their subjection; he was regarded a typical sinner. Jesus let none of this stand in His way; in the gospel it emerges clearly with what kindness He carried out His mission as Saviour of mankind. St Matthew is known to us as one of the four Evangelists. He was the first one to put down in writing our Lord’s teaching and the account of His life. His Gospel was written in Aramaic, the language of Jesus Himself. St Matthew is numbered as one of the twelve apostles.

 

PRAYER:

Through the intercession of St Matthew, Evangelist, may we always put aside worldly distractions and follow You, O Lord, as quietly as St Matthew left his work and immediately became one of Your disciples. By his example and prayers help us to follow You without counting the cost and remain faithful in Your service.

Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.

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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Prayers to the Saints

 

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THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MEN AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: THE RANSOM FOR MANY

The Gospel according to Mark, chapter 10

WHAT MOTIVE COULD EXPLAIN THIS SEEMINGLY FOOLISH RESOLVE?

“Caiphas and the enemies of Jesus had resolved to put Jesus to death. The feast of the Pasch was approaching, and Jesus expected to attend the feast at Jerusalem. To avoid the plot of Caiphas, after restoring life to Lazarus at Bethany, Jesus withdrew to Ephraim, a village twenty miles north of Jerusalem. He remained there until it was time to start the journey to Jerusalem for the Pasch.

When Jesus started on the road to Jerusalem the Apostles were both puzzled and frightened. They knew of the enmity of Caiphas for Jesus; they had taken the sojourn of Jesus at Ephraim to mean that Jesus was seeking to avoid the traps of Caiphas. Now Jesus seemed determined to walk into the clutches of His enemies. What motive could explain this seemingly foolish resolve?

Jesus, knowing their fears, said to them, ‘Behold, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the Scribes; and they will condemn him to death and will deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again’ (Mark 10:33-34).

THE APOSTLES SEEMED TO HOPE IN A GLORIOUS MESSIAS

Jesus knew that His time had come, the time appointed by His Father for Him to die. He foretold it to His Apostles and disciples. He also told them that He would come back to life again on the third day after His death. Both of these predictions were mystifying to the Apostles. They understood neither of them. Their minds were so filled with visions of Jesus as a glorious, triumphant Messias, that they could not perceive any significance in the picture of a suffering, defeated Messias, even if He were to rise again.

‘YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING FOR’

That the minds of the Apostles were blinded by their own hopes for a glorious Messias is shown by the incident which immediately followed the prediction of the death of Jesus. The mother of the two sons of Zebedee, John and James, came to Jesus and asked Him, ‘Command that these, my two sons may sit, one at Thy right hand, and one at Thy left hand, in Thy kingdom.’ Jesus, addressing John and James, said, ‘You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink of the cup of which I drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I am to be baptised?’ Believing that Jesus would lead them to a glorious triumph, the sons of Zebedee answered, ‘We can’ (Mark 10: 35-40; Matthew 20:23).

Jesus knew that they misunderstood Him. They had not seen that Jesus was to enter His own glory only after passing through death. Hence He asked them if they were ready to drink of the chalice which He Himself had to drink, that is, the cup of misfortune and death. Even though they did not understand, their loyalty to Jesus remained firm and they answered that they were ready to drink the same cup. Jesus then told them, ‘Of my cup you shall indeed drink; but as for sitting at my right hand and at my left, that is not mine to give you, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father’ (Matthew 20:23).

The other Apostles who had followed the conversation became indignant at the ambition of the two brothers. Jesus took the occasion to enlighten all the Apostles on the true nature of His mission. ‘You know,’ He said to them, ‘that the rulers of the Gentiles lord over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so is it among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; even as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:25-28).

THE PRICE TO BE PAID TO GOD FOR THE RESTORATION OF DIVINE LIFE TO MEN, THE SALVATION OF MEN

In these words Jesus gently rebuked all the Apostles for their worldly dreams of power. If they were to be His faithful disciples, they must not seek to lord it over their fellowmen, but rather to serve them. Jesus Himself has not come into this world to rule an earthly kingdom, but rather to serve mankind. In fact, He is to give up His life as a ransom for all men. Jesus had already predicted His death three times, the last time just before the ambitious request of the sons of Zebedee. Now, for the first time, He says clearly that His suffering and death will be offered as a ransom for men. He had already hinted at this aspect of His death when He compared Himself to a Good Shepherd and said that the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. A ransom is the price paid to liberate someone, and the Good Shepherd lays down His life to save the lives of His sheep. Jesus, therefore, is saying that His life is the price which will be paid for the salvation of men. It is the price to be paid to God for the restoration of divine life to men, the salvation of men, the establishment of the Kingdom of God among men.

‘LORD, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON US’

The Apostles probably did not understand the words of Jesus, but they followed Him on His way to Jerusalem. As they drew near to Jericho, they were met by two blind men. When the blind men heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.’ Though some would have prevented them from disturbing Jesus, He commanded that they be brought to Him. He asked them what they wished of Him. When they asked Him to restore their sight, Jesus, moved by compassion, touched their eyes, and immediately their sight was given to them.

Shortly afterwards, as they were passing through Jericho, a great crowd filled the street to see Jesus. One of the townspeople, a certain Zacchaeus, a rich publican, climbed a sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus. Now publicans, tax gatherers, were regarded by the people as sinners, as extortioners. It was therefore surprising to the crowd when Jesus, seeing Zacchaeus in the tree, called to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay in thy house today’ (Luke 19:5). Zacchaeus, sinner that he was, was overjoyed at the thought that the Wonderworker, Jesus of Nazareth, condescended to accept the hospitality of his house. But some of the people, probably those opposed to Jesus, murmured that Jesus did not hesitate to be the guest of a sinner. This gesture of Jesus, however, moved Zacchaeus to repentance, and he said, ‘Behold, Lord, I give one half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold’ (Luke 19:8).

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

Tax gatherers, publicans, worked for the Roman authorities, gathering taxes for them. For that reason, they appeared to the people as traitors of Israel. The gesture of Zacchaeus in returning the monies he had gained by his trade showed his sincere repentance. Jesus recognised this and said, ‘Today salvation has come to this house since he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost’ (Luke 19:9-10).

In these last words Jesus repeats the lesson He had already given His Apostles. He has come, not to establish an earthly kingdom but to save the souls of sinners. He will give His life for the salvation of men.

Either during or after the meal in the house of Zacchaeus, Jesus told the parable of the talents or the gold pieces. The people were looking on Jesus as a political Messias, who would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus knew that their hopes would be disappointed when He died an ignominious death at Jerusalem. He tried, in this parable, to correct their false hopes and lead them to a better hope.

A nobleman, He told them, went to a far country to obtain a kingdom for himself. This would probably recall to the people the history of Herod, who went to Rome to obtain from the Romans the title of King of Judea. The nobleman, before leaving, sent for his servants and gave each of them some gold pieces which they were to use to gain profit for their master. But his enemies sent a delegation after him that they did not desire him to be their king. On his return as king he sent for his servants and demanded an accounting of the gold pieces. One servant had gained ten gold pieces, another five. He rewarded them by giving them positions of power and influence. But one of the servants had been afraid to hazard the piece given him, and so he returned only this piece, without any interest whatsoever. The king took even this piece away from him because he had been a useless servant. The citizens who had opposed him he put to death.

THE MEANING

In this parable Jesus was trying to describe the relations between Himself and His own people. He was the Messias, seeking to establish His own kingdom in the world. But he was to do so only by dying, by leaving His people for a time. In His absence His enemies will work to keep His kingdom from Him. But He gives His Apostles and disciples gold pieces, the means of building up His kingdom for Him. They must work for Him, even in His absence, to build up His kingdom. Even though He Himself is absent from them, they must persevere in His interests with hope and courage.

THE OINTMENT OF GREAT VALUE

After this warning Jesus continued on His journey to Jerusalem. Six days before the Pasch Jesus arrived in Bethany. Here He met Simon the Leper, Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. While they were reclining at table, Mary took a pound of ointment, spikenard, an ointment of great value. She anointed the head of Jesus with the spikenard, and then, since there was some left over, she anointed His feet also. Judas Iscariot, one of the Apostles, the treasurer of the band of Apostles, objected to this waste. The ointment, he claimed, could have been sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor.

St John tells us that Judas said this, not because he had any great love for the poor but rather because he was avaricious and sought money for himself. It is possible that Judas, of all the Apostles, was the most interested in the establishment by Jesus of an earthly kingdom, a kingdom in which Judas himself would become rich and powerful. He may, at this time, have become discouraged at the refusal of Jesus to seek to establish such a kingdom. In such case the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, the stronghold of His enemies, would have seemed to Judas to be madness, and so he was already prepared to betray the ‘madman’ who disappointed his hopes.”

– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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“THE FAULT-FINDING PERSON IS SOMEONE IN SEARCH OF A BETTER SELF-IMAGE”

THE FAULT-FINDING PERSON IS SOMEONE IN SEARCH OF A BETTER SELF-IMAGE

“We come into the world with certain basic needs. Some of these needs are physical, such as the need for food and the need for oxygen. If our physical needs do not find satisfaction, we either die or suffer poor health.

But we also have basic psychological needs. If those needs are not satisfied, we may not die, but we almost certainly shall be lacking in emotional health.

Love is the most essential of our psychological needs. Love is as necessary for the healthful development of the mind as food is for the body’s well-being. Rejected children, deprived of love during infancy and childhood, inevitably exhibit personality problems in adulthood.

ROOTS OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

Aside from love, psychologists differ as to the exact number and nature of our other psychological needs. There is pretty general agreement, however, as to our need for acceptance, for recognition and for achievement.

The need for acceptance means that we do not want to be isolated, we do not want to stand alone. We want to be approved by and received into those groups which are important to us. We want to be ‘one of the gang’. We suffer, for example, if we are left out of a party by those whom we value as friends.

STATUS SYMBOLS AND THE NEED FOR ACHIEVEMENT

The need for recognition means that we want other people to see us as a worthwhile sort of person, deserving of respect and attention. It is very painful to be looked upon as a person of little consequence. It is this need which makes ‘status symbols’ so precious to us.

The need for achievement means that we must have some taste of success. We can expect to fail in some things some times, but without a reasonable score of successes we easily develop harmful feelings of inferiority.

DEEP-SEATED FEELINGS OF INSECURITY

If these basic needs have found a normal degree of satisfaction during our childhood, then almost certainly we have reached maturity with a well-balanced personality. We have a satisfactory image of ourselves in our own mind – an image which we have formed from seeing ourselves mirrored in the behaviour of other persons toward us.

We have a good feeling concerning ourselves. We feel at least moderately competent to deal with life’s problems. We are tolerant toward others and passably free from envy and jealousy. We are too content with what we are to resent what another may be.

On the other hand, if our basic needs have not been satisfied, then we are likely to suffer from deep-seated (and usually unrecognised) feelings of insecurity. In our own mind we have an unfavourable self-image which we try to hide from ourselves by so-called ‘defence mechanisms’.

MAGNIFYING THE FAULTS OF OTHERS

One such mechanism, a very common one, is that of hyper-criticalness. We try to make our own failings seem less by magnifying the faults of others and by belittling the accomplishments of others. The fault-finding and self-righteous person is someone in search of a better self-image.

THE PARABLE OF THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR

In the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, Jesus gives us, in the person of the Pharisee, a graphic example of the insecure man.

Scorning the Publican while at the same time glorifying himself, the Pharisee tries hard to drown out the inner voice which keeps whispering that he really is an inferior person. A psychologist would say that the Publican, unafraid to face and acknowledge his defects, is mentally a much healthier individual than the Pharisee.

In the Gospels, of course, Jesus is not trying to give us a course in psychology. Our Lord is concerned primarily with helping us to rise above our weaknesses, rather than with analysing the sources of those weaknesses. His repeated message is that we can and must conquer our unbrotherly tendencies, whatever the origin of those tendencies may be.

If we feel a compulsion to be overcritical and self-righteous, we may never be able to wholly eliminate our inner feelings of insecurity, but with God’s grace we can eliminate the outward manifestations of that insecurity.

We can take our place beside the Publican and face our own sins, and leave the sins of others to God.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF SELF?

• “Everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.

• Gospel Reading: Luke 18:9-14

• The tax collector went home again at rights with God; the Pharisee did not. (v. 14)

• Self help books are all the rage. The emphasis, however, is always on the power of self, our ability to change ourselves. The Gospel knows all about change and transformation, but not by our own strength and will but by God’s grace and love. For sure we play our part. God does not take away our will. We have to work and co-operate with him. But true conversion is never simply a human work. It always involves the movement of a contrite heart, made open and receptive to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

• Father, conversion is your work. Help me seek you, moving with you and following the teachings of your Son, Jesus Christ. You are ‘My all in all’. Be close to me.

• Our Father…, Ten Hail Marys…, Glory be…

• Today my prayer is for…”
– This short meditation was published in “A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009” by AlivePublishing. For information about their booklets please visit http://www.alivepublishing.co.uk (external link).

 

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29th MARCH, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 18:9-14)

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else.

“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.’

The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful on me, a sinner.’

This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (LUKE 18:9-14)

THE TAX COLLECTOR WENT HOME AGAIN AT RIGHTS WITH GOD; THE PHARISEE DID NOT.

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else, “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.’

The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

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