June 8,2008 (10th Sunday Year A)

Scripture: Call of Matthew 9:9-13

Have you ever noticed how often people seem to be eating in the Scriptures? In Old and New Testaments it is called 'The Banquets Theme' and has a very deep symbolic meaning. A few examples: The Lord will have a feast on a mountain (Is.25:6); Your Lord prepares a feast for me (Psalm 23:5); Jesus eats with Zachaeus; with Matthew; with the two at Emmaus; at the Last Supper; at a wedding feast at Cana; he multiplies bread and fish, etc, etc.

In his famous parable the Welcoming Father prepares a feast for his prodigal son. The deep symbolic meaning is this: at a meal the family relaxes and all enjoy each others' company. This is a symbol of the relationship between God and each of us - a warm, relaxed friendship.

On May 30 Yomiuri Shimbun published the result of a survey on Japanese and Religion. 72% felt un-religious. 43% felt that religion used fear. So what is the real, authentic teaching & way of Jesus?

We say that Jesus calls us, as he called Matthew. We are free to follow this call or not. (Matthew chapter 19 shows the rich young man refusing - but still Jesus loved him). In today's scene Jesus says "Matthew, come follow me." Matthew got up and followed him. Later Jesus had dinner at Matthew's house. This 'having dinner' is not just an incidental detail. It is vital in the text. Jesus calls Matthew to have a warm, relaxed friendship with Himself.

You and I are called in the same way. The Scriptures always have an eternal present tense. We too are called to a friendly, relaxed, warm relationship with God. THIS is the core of our religion - the Way of Jesus. So chase fear out of your heart!

We foster this warm relationship when we pray. St.Teresa of Avila says: Prayer is a heart to heart conversation with our friend Jesus whom we know loves us. Why not try it! Taste God's warmth.