The Lessons for the Feast of Saint Matthew - Monday, September 21, 2020
Lord Jesus, you called Matthew from collecting taxes to become your apostle and evangelist: Grant us the grace to forsake all covetous desires and inordinate love of riches, that we may follow you as he did and proclaim to the world around us the good news of your salvation; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT: Proverbs 3:1-12: Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart
3 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, 2 for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good success[a] in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh[b] and refreshment[c] to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, *
and I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; *
indeed, I shall keep it with my whole heart.
35 Make me go in the path of your commandments, *
for therein is my desire.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, *
and not to covetous desires.
37 O turn away my eyes, lest they behold vanity, *
and revive me in your ways.
38 Confirm your word to your servant, *
and to all those who fear you.
39 Take away the reproach that I am afraid of, *
for your judgments are good.
40 Behold, my delight is in your precepts; *
O revive me in your righteousness.
NEW TESTAMENT: 2 Timothy 3:1-17:
Godlessness in the Last Days
3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
GOSPEL: Matthew 9:9-13
Jesus Calls Matthew
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
1-2 The first exhortation is to follow the father's "teaching" (lit., "law"), because it will bring a long and peaceful life. Here the verbs "do not forget" and "keep" remind the disciple of general educational discipline. The result is a life worth living, free from danger and trouble.
3 The second exhortation is to be faithful and trustworthy because it brings honor with God and man. "Love" and "faithfulness" are the two basic covenant terms in Israel. The former is essentially fidelity to obligations arising from a relationship; the latter is essentially that which can be relied on, Faithful love, coupled with the allusion to Dt 6:8and even Jer 31:3, show that the content of this disciplined life is faith in the Lord. By "binding" and "writing" the teacher is stressing that the teachings become a part of the disciple's nature. The ramifications of this terminology are that the disciple is actually subject to the Lord, not the teacher, and that the requisite "discipline" is respect and obedience for the Lord and his teaching, not merely for a human instructor.
4 Verse 4 provides the final motivation: favor and a good name. Parallel to 13:15, this difficult line probably signifies that the disciple will have a reputation for good understanding, meaning that he will be respected by God and other people.
5-6 Several specific instructions compose this general admonition to be faithful. The first is to trust in the Lord and not in oneself, because he grants success. "Trust" carries the force of relying on someone for security; the confidence is to be in the Lord and not in human understanding. Such trust must be characterized by total commitment—"with all your heart," "in all your ways." "Understanding" is now cast in a sinful mode (cf. 1:2, 6); so there is to be a difference between the understanding that wisdom brings and the natural understanding that undermines faith. When obedient faith is present, the Lord will guide the believer along life's paths in spite of difficulties and hindrances. The idea of "straight" contrasts to the crooked and perverse ways of the wicked.
7-8 The second instruction is to revere the Lord and avoid evil. Here too there is a difference between human wisdom and the new wisdom from above (cf. Isa 5:21). There must be a higher source—"fear the Lord and shun evil." Compliance with this is therapeutic: it will be health to the body and nourishment for the frame. The healing that the fear of the Lord and avoidance of evil bring is first and foremost spiritual. Scripture often uses the physical body to describe inner spiritual or psychical feelings.
9-10 The third piece of advice is to give back to God some of one's wealth as a sacrifice in recognition that God gave it (cf. Ex 23:19; Nu 28:26-27; Dt 18:4; 26:1-2). The admonition reminds the faithful of their religious duties to God. Then follows the promise of blessing in the "barns" and the "vats."
11-12 The final specific instruction warns the disciple not to rebel against the Lord's discipline, because it is an evidence of his love. Wisdom literature knows that the righteous do not receive uninterrupted blessing; suffering remains a problem for everyone, and this text records one of their solutions. This motivation recalls the language of the Davidic covenant (2Sa 7:14; Ps 89:32-33), which mentions discipline in love. Indeed, it is the father-son relationship that provides insight into the nature of that discipline (cf. Heb 12:5-6).
PSALM 119:33-40: Prayer for instruction in God’s will as he longs for God’s values.
33-37 The purpose of God's positive direction and protection from evil is to encourage the psalmist to keep the law. Keeping the law was not a matter of external conformity in the OT but required "a heart" of absolute devotion to God. By God's help he will "follow" his "decrees" (huqqim) and receive God's reward. His "delight" of radical loyalty from the heart is a work of grace. He prays that the Lord may "preserve" him as he walks in the way of God.
38-40 The mood of the prayer changes abruptly to a call for action. The psalmist asks the Lord to "fulfill" his "word" or "promise" (imrah) of "righteousness" to his servant. In his righteousness God delivers, frees, preserves life, and removes a dreaded "disgrace." The delight in God's laws is in direct relationship to his prayer that the Lord's righteousness be established for him and for all of God's servants.
2 TIMOTHY 3:1-17
3:1-9 While technically we have been in the last days since Christ walked the earth, the Church has seen this and other warnings as a reference to the days just before His coming again. A great decay in morals will even infiltrate the Church. 2Timothy 3:1–9 Paul continues on the theme of false teaching by turning to an attack on the false teachers themselves, noting their impact upon the church at Ephesus, but concluding with the affirmation that they will not succeed in the end.
3:10–17 With the problem of the false teachers fully in view, Paul once more turns to exhorting Timothy to faithfulness, first in terms of the example which Paul has set, and then as obedience to Scripture.
HOMILY NOTES: MATTHEW 9:9-13 Theme: Jesus calls sinners to follow him
Introduction: Matthew was a tax collector (in the parallel passages in Mark 2:2-17 and Luke 5:27-32, he is called Levi). These men were Jews who were sent to collect taxes from their fellow Jews, and were considered betrayers by other Jews. Therefore, he was regarded as a sinner. When the Pharisees see Jesus dining with sinners, they ask his disciples why. Jesus answers them in 3 phrases. We will look at each today and see what they tell us about our call to Jesus and what it means to follow him.
1. “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick (Matthew 9:12b)”.
a. Jesus begins by adding the concept of disease to that of sin.
b. Concerning both disease and sin, Jesus has come not to discuss the cause but to treat
2. “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13a)”.
a. Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6, where the prophet is inspired to criticize the Jews: “ I
desire steadfast love, not sacrifice.”
b. Sacrifice is what Jews did to appease God, but this was not healing their disease
(Hosea 5:13: When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king.[d] But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound.”)
c. No one can heal or justify themselves
d. God offers mercy, that we may be healed and forgiven by his action.
e. We in turn recognize our sin, willingly turn away from it through God’s grace (help) and
turn toward God as the giver of new life and salvation.
f. We are to extend God’s mercy to others, and through living this way God is given room
to heal us.
3. “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:13b)”.
a. By giving this sentence last in responding to the Pharisees, Jesus is helping them to
see that this not the scandal they thought it was but rather an act of mercy
b. Jesus wants his hearers to recognize their own sin and accept our call to follow him,
which implies repentance.
Conclusion: Everyone Jesus calls to follow him is a sinner, unable to heal ourselves. And, he is calling all people. Are we judging others or are we trying to see them through Jesus’ merciful eyes? Also, do we see ourselves as still in need of his healing, or do we believe we are now well? Do we still need Jesus, or did we only need him in the past? One way to tell is how we pray. The more we think ourselves to be well, better than others, the less we are likely to pray, and the less likely we are to be merciful. Let us humbly rejoice that God has called us sinners to follow him and are receiving his mercy.