The Calling of St. Matthew, by Vittore Carpaccio, 1502.

When Jesus followed Matthew -Friday, 13th Week in ordinary time- Matthew 9: 9-13

Someone once well put it, Jesus ate His way through the gospels and He certainly must have eaten a lot. His detractors even accused Him of being a friend of gluttons and drunkards. Not without reason did Jesus sit at table to eat. In Judaism, table fellowship was not merely a time to tuck into stew of vegetables, lentils and chickpeas spiced with herbs. To be invited to someone’s home for a meal, was to be invited into their inner circle.

Matthew would have had more than just a vegetable stew the day he invited Jesus over to dine. He had every reason to celebrate, for the famous resident of Capernaum, now a wonder working Rabbi had asked him to be His follower. Just the thought of it was unimaginable for tax collectors such as Matthew, for they were a hated lot and considered to be traitors, for they worked for the enemy, the Romans.

Matthew had more reason to be hated. He was tax collector in Capernaum, which was situated on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, and it connected major population centres of the world. It was famously known as the Via maris or the way of the sea. Matthew surely made a killing in overcharging taxes from those who passed that way.

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