St. Matthew Teaches Us Detachment
Here is the Pope's message for today's Wednesday Audience:
Vatican, Aug. 30 (CWNews.com) - "Christ excludes no one from his friendship," Pope Benedict XVI told his weekly public audience on August 30. But someone who chooses to follow Christ cannot remain attached to sinful habits, the Pontiff said.
Speaking to about 8,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium at the Vatican, the Holy Father continued his series of reflections on the apostolic tradition with some thoughts on St. Matthew, the apostle who left his work as a tax collector to follow Jesus.
As a tax collector, the Pontiff reminded his audience, Matthew was held in contempt because he "not only handled money that was regarded as impure because it came from people not belonging to the people of God, but also because he was collaborating with a foreign authority." But when Matthew responded to the call from Jesus, the Pope continued, he "evidently understood that being close to Jesus would not allow him to continue with the activities of which God disapproved."
In his own recounting of that call (Mt 9:9), St. Matthew says simply, "And he rose and followed Him." Pope Benedict remarked that "the brevity of that sentence clearly reflects the alacrity with which Matthew responds." But if St. Matthew answered the call immediately, he could not have made his choice lightly, the Pope observed, because he was "leaving everything behind-- especially what had guaranteed him a secure income, however unjust and dishonorable."
Responding to Christ's call entailed a dramatic conversion, the Pope said. He remarked that the moment is captured brilliantly in Caravaggio's painting, "The Calling of St. Matthew," which is displayed in Rome's church of St. Luigi dei Francesi.
Applying the example of St. Matthew to one's own life is simple, the Pope said. "Today too, attachment to things incompatible with following Christ, such as wealth dishonestly obtained, is inadmissible." Christianity requires "detachment from occasions of sin and a conscious choice of a new way of life." Following Christ means "leaving behind-- sometimes at great cost-- everything that is incompatible with true discipleship and embarking upon a new life."
Pope Benedict made his final public audience of August after a trip from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. The Holy Father-- who appeared relaxed and refreshed as the summer weeks draw to a close-- was accompanied by his private secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, who recently returned from his own vacation.
Catholic World News