The Gospel Today
Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Reflection (Sem. Ramon C. Jamora, Jr.):
One of my most cherished apostolates was the prison exposure in the New Bilibid Prisons. I have heard a lot of stories and different cases of inmates of why they were imprisoned. There were even cases that I thought could only be true in movies or TV dramas. In all their stories, there is one thing which, I believe, is related and very much the essence of today’s gospel: hope.
There are more than ten thousand inmates in the maximum security. Most of them are sentenced from 20 years to life imprisonment. Even if they are charged guilty of their crime, they still have a chance to be free from prison. There are inmates who were discharged during our apostolate. Freedom from imprisonment continues to give them hope for a new life and a chance to amend their lives with their family and the society.
More than the hope of being free from prison, there is one greater hope that I have learned from the insights and personal experiences of some of the inmates – their hope of eternal life with God in heaven. They are convinced that God has forgiven them. Through this conviction, they devote themselves in service to the Church and to others. They continue to hold on to God and to His words. They talk about the Good News that Jesus has preached.
In that encounter, Jesus continues to be true in His words. He continues to extend His mercy to the lowly. He makes us feel that He loves us. He makes His presence felt in the most unexpected times and from unexpected people. Jesus continues to call sinners to repentance. Jesus is calling us to repentance.
Allow this day to be a blessing of hope and repentance. Let us continue to hold on to the words of Jesus and allow His presence – especially in the Holy Eucharist – to guide and strengthen us as we begin our journey of a new life. Let us repent and believe in the Gospel.