September 21, 2008
vol 19, no. 265

"Follow Me."

    Double of the Second Class Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
provided by
John Gregory

      Editor's Note: We continue this special feature provided by John Gregory with the Haydock Commentary found at the bottom of each page of the Douay-Rheims Bible. With the type so small in most bibles, we publish it here in larger type in conjunction with the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday Mass, with the cogent comprehensive Catholic Commentary penned by Father George Leo Haydock. The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost is superseded this year by the Double of the Second Class Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist Father Haydock provides insight into the significance of Christ choosing Matthew (Levi) who was a publican. It is a message to the Pharisees that Jesus has not come for the just, but for sinners. To further emphasize the futility of the Pharisee's agenda He informs them in as few words as possible that their sacrifices are nil if they have no mercy with His words, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." With those words is it any wonder the apostles left all and followed Him?

Epistle: Ezechiel 1: 10-14

10 And as for the likeness of their faces: there was the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four: and the face of an ox, on the left side of all the four: and the face of an eagle over all the four.

    Commentary on Verse 10 Over. This is not specified in Heb. Chal. Sept. or Saint Jerome. (C.) – “the face of an eagle for all the four.” It must have been above or behind the man as the situation of the other two faces is here determined, verse 6. (H)

11 And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined, and two covered their bodies:

    Commentary on Verse 11 Faces. Septuagint, “wings:” and indeed it does not appear how their faces were stretched upwards, (C.) unless they looked earnestly that way; though, out of respect, they covered their faces with two wings.
12 And every one of them went straight forward: whither the impulse of the spirit was to go, thither they went: and they turned not when they went.

13 And as for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like that of burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps. This was the vision running to and fro in the midst of the living creatures, a bright fire, and lightning going forth from the fire.

14 And the living creatures ran and returned like flashes of lightning.

    Commentary on Verse 14 Flashes. Heb. Bazak. (H.) – Theodotion retains the original. His version seems to have been inserted in the Septuagint, (Calmet) who omitted this verse, as seeming to contradict verses 9 and 12. (Saint Jerome) – Yet it only signifies that the motion was quick as lighting, though they did not alter their situation with respect to each other.

Gospel: St. Matthew 9: 9-13

9 At that time, Jesus saw a man sitting in the custom house, named Matthew; and He saith to him: "Follow Me." And he rose up and followed Him.

    Commentary on Verse 9 Named Matthew. ‘Tis remarked by Saint Jerome, that the other evangelist, out of respect to this apostle, did not call him Matthew, (the name he generally went by) but Levi; whereas he, in his own gospel, to shew the goodness of God who from a publican had made him an apostle, styles himself Matthew the publican. (Saint Thomas Aquinas) – (Saint Austin. de Concor. Evan.) It is most probable, says Saint Augustine, that Saint Matthew does not mention what had happened to him, before he began to follow Jesus; for it is supposed that this evangelist was called antecedent to the sermon on the mount; for Saint Luke named the 12 that were chosen, and calls them apostles. Saint Matthew mentions his vocation to the apostleship as one of the miracles that Jesus performed, for certainly it was a great miracle for a publican to become an apostle. – Rose up, and followed Him. When we hear the voice of God calling us to virtue, we must not delay. The devil, says Saint Basil, does not advise us to turn entirely from God, but only to put off our conversion to a future time. He steals away our present time, and gives us hopes of the future. But when that comes, he steals that also in the same manner; and thus by giving us present pleasure, he robs us of our whole life. (Saint Basil) – Sitting in the custom-house. Jesus called Saint Matthew with two words only, follow Me; and presently he left all, and became His disciple; doubtless by a particular inspiration and motion of divine grace. (Wi.)
10 And it came to pass as He was sitting at meat in the house, behold many publicans and sinners came, and sat down with Jesus and His disciples.

11 And the Pharisees seeing it, said to His disciples: Why doth your Master eat with publicans and sinners?

12 But Jesus hearing it, said: They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill.

    Commentary on Verse 13 They that are in health. The explication of which is, I converse with sinners, that I may heal their souls from incredulity. (M.)

13 Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners.

    Commentary on Verse 13 I am not come. The just appear to be mentioned ironically, as it is said in Genesis, Behold Adam is become as one of us: and if I hunger, I will not tell thee. (Psalm 49) For Saint Paul asserts, that none on earth were just: all have sinned, and need the glory of God. (Romans 3) (Saint John Chrysostom, homily 31) – Christ came to call all men, both just and unjust, since He called Nathanael, who was a just man. But the meaning of these words is, I came not to call you, Scribes and Pharisees, who esteem yourselves just, and despise others, and who think you have no need of a physician; but I came to call those who acknowledge themselves sinners. (Theophylactus) – Or the meaning may be, “I came not to call the just to penance, of which they have no need;” thus in Saint Luke, (chapter 5) I came not to call the just, but sinners to repentance. Or again, the meaning may be, I came not to call the just, because there are none just of themselves, and who stand not in need of My coming. Saint Paul says, All have sinned, as above. (M.) – Mercy, and not sacrifice. Christ here prefers mercy to sacrifice; for, as Saint Ambrose says, there is no virtue so becoming a Christian as mercy, but chiefly mercy to the poor. For if we give money to the poor, we at the same time give him life: if we clothe the naked, we adorn our souls with the robe of justice: if we receive the poor harborless under our roof, we shall at the same time make friends with the saints in Heaven, and shall afterwards be received by them into their eternal habitations. (Saint Ambrose) – I will have mercy and not sacrifice: these words occur in the prophet Osee, chapter 6. The Pharisees thought they were making a great sacrifice, and acceptable to God, by breaking off all commerce with sinners; but God prefers the mercy of the charitable physician, who frequents the company of sinners; but merely to cure them. (V.)

    September 21, 2008
    vol 19, no. 265
    Haydock Commentary for Sunday's Proper for the Feast of St. Matthew