Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Patron of Politicians was a Crooked Tax Collector
Commemoration of Ember Wednesday in September
As Ember Wednesday in September, this is the first day of Autumn on the Church's calendar. Autumn is also election season in the US. Sure, the big election (for President of the US) is next year, but there are elections every year at one level of government or another. St. Matthew is the patron saint of politicians as he was a crooked tax collector. This is a great day to pray for elected officials. We should try to convert them. If a rotten crook like St. Matthew can convert, than so can any politician. If a hate-monger like St. Paul can convert, then so can any anti-Catholic bigot. If a promiscuous man like St. Augustine...you get the idea. We hear much about the conversions of Sts. Paul and Augustine, but not much of the conversion of St. Matthew. Considering how politicians are typically corrupt tax collectors, we need greater devotion to St. Matthew.
Whenever we want something, we simply pray for it. Ungrateful people pray and expect God to give it to them right away as if God was bound to obey them. They are like bratty children who demand things of their parents as if their parents were bound to obey them. The devout pray and beg knowing that they might not get what they want, as it is God's decision and not theirs. They are like children who nag incessantly for something, anxious because they know that they might not get it. Someone more devout will not only pray but also do penance to ask God for something. They are like children who not only beg, but also do work around the house to gain what they ask for.
The bigger the petition, the more prayer and penance is required to obtain it. We hear in today's Gospel (or what would have been the Gospel if it wasn't St. Matthew's feast-day), "This kind of devils can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." Does that mean that we can gain anything? Of course not. God will only give that which He wills to give. Accordingly, the biggest penance we can offer is our own wills, letting God decide what our lives will be, what will become of us, and letting Him move us where He wants us to go, giving things we want up to God. Of those things, the fire of His love will destroy that which is evil and polish that which is good. This is a very necessary step to take in this life, since if we die with those evil things on our souls, the resulting fire and suffering is rather...permanent. The fire and suffering of this life is brief and passing, since this life is brief and passing. So let us suffer now and not later.