Today is the feast of Holy St. Matthew.
I always consider him the saint who battled and overcame the sin of "hob knobbery"....to desire to only mix with the rich and influential. Matthew was Jewish and the Jews in his city were poor, some probably illiterate, badly dressed, and perhaps smelling of fish as many were hard working fishermen. Matthew probably liked beauty: beautiful clothes, good food, lovely surroundings. The Romans were well dressed, glib, dined only on the best food, smelled of perfumed oil, were pleasant to be around in a surface sort of way. So, he made it his purpose to be one of them....in the only way he could.....a tax collector. He probably got what he wanted. Romans probably came for dinner, drank fine wine with him, and laughed languidly with him over the exploits of the rabble fishermen who came to Matthew's collection house door. At their drollness and bumpkin ways. And in this smooth, languid way Matthew betrayed his brother Jews and their faith. Hob Knobbery, Status Seeking, Social climbing. These things have led quite pleasantly and graciously to the greatest sins both then and in our time. We all still need to carefully examine our intentions when, for example, we choose to belong to the best prep schools...is it just for the status? the right parishes with all the "programs" and the coolest youth group. Are we doing them just to see and be seen? Do we help poor parishes with an attitude of condescension never really recognizing the real dignity and brave holiness of the people who live and work there? It insinuates, it creeps in, this sin, almost secretly. Under the guise of beautiful things. But true beauty doesn't lie there. It lies in the Gospel message that Jesus brought to the counting house one fateful day. And Matthew - feeling the overwhelming emptiness of status - left all and followed Jesus instantly, returned to his brother Jews, and wrote for them the magnificent Gospel of the true and lasting beauty of their Messiah, their King. St. Matthew, pray that we may be as brave as you!!