The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Matthew 9:9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 19, 2015

THE SAINT AND THE PHARISEES.
He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the receipt of custom

IN this Gospel three things are to be noted. Firstly,  the compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly,  the holiness of S. Matthew. Thirdly, the blindness of  the Pharisees.

I. On the first head the compassion of our Lord is to  be noted in five particulars.

Firstly, in the sanctification of S. Matthew. He saw that  God saw him with a fourfold eye by infusing grace. ” There  is another that is slow and hath need of help, wanting ability; yet the eye of the Lord looked upon him for  good, and set him up from his low estate” (Sirach 11:12).  All of which can be well applied to the call of S. Mat-
thew.

Secondly, in calling S. Matthew to the Apostolate. ” He  saith unto him, Follow Me;” ” I have called thee” (Isa. 41:9).

Thirdly, in eating familiarly with him and with other  publicans. ” Jesus sat at meat, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him” (S. Matt. 9:10).

Fourthly, in His confutation of the sins of the Pharisees. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that  are sick;” as if He said, Ye do need Me, since ye repute  yourselves to be whole.

Fifthly, in the recommendation of His compassion. “Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy  and not sacrifice.” Our Lord’s compassion was so great  that as He had justified and sanctified a great sinner, so  also He ate familiarly with him, by doing which He  silenced the Pharisees, who eschewed sinners, and commended His own divine pity and compassion.

II. On the second head, the holiness of S. Matthew is  to be noted in five particulars.

Firstly, in his desertion of all things. “He left all, rose  up and followed Him” (S. Luke 5:28).

Secondly, in the readiness of his obedience. “He rose up” (S. Luke 5:28), obeying directly the Lord called him. “As soon as they hear of me they shall obey me” (Ps. 18:45).

Thirdly, in the imitation of Christ. “He followed Him,” imitating His life thereby. “Be ye therefore followers of God” (Eph. 5:1). S. Augustine says that the  whole good of man consists in imitating Christ; in his  avoiding that which Christ despises, and choosing that  which Christ approves of.

Fourthly , in shewing hospitality. “Levi made Him a  great feast in his own house” (S. Luke 5:29); “Be not  forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have  entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). If God be  pleased by His angel being entertained, how much more  is He pleased when He Himself is the guest.

Fifthly, by the exhibition of all his sins. He calls himself “Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom,” by the  name by which he was the better known, that so might also be better known his sin. The other Evangelists call him by his name of Levi.

III. On the third head, the blindness of the Pharisees is  learned from five particulars.

Firstly, they did not see their own sins.

Secondly, they judged the lesser sins of others to be  grievous, whilst they had pride in their own hearts, which is  the greatest sin of all, whilst they condemned in others the  lesser sins of envy, avarice, and the like. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then  shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy  brother’s eye ” (S. Matt. 7:4).

Thirdly, they vituperated Him, Whom they ought to  have praised. He Who ought to be praised for His mercy and compassion to the body, these condemned. ” A righteous man” (that is, Jesus Christ) “regardeth the life of his  beast” (of those souls who by predestination are bearing his yoke), “but the tender mercies of the wicked” (of the  Pharisees) “are cruel” (Prov. 12:10).

Fourthly, they envied that in which they ought to have  rejoiced; they envied the compassionate God. “I will sing  of the mercies of the Lord for ever ” (Ps. 89:2).

Fifthly, when they ought to be enlightened they became  darkened, since they detracted from the mercifulness of God. “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” “Have mercy upon us, O Lord God of all,  and behold us” (Sirach 36:1).

May we avoid the blindness of the Pharisees, and imitate the holiness of S. Matthew, and love and praise the  mercy and compassion of God.

 

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