St. Louis is an interesting town. The arch, the whole history thing (the Lewis & Clark expedition, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, "Dewey Defeats Truman", etc.), perhaps the most beautiful cathedral in the United States, AND AS IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH, a professional hockey team. What else do I need?
I happened to be in town for the St. Louis Blues' "Fan Day", in which they open up their arena for a day of intra-team scrimmages, autograph sessions with the players, and games for the kids. It was a pretty neat thing, even with the fact that I knew the names of only one or two players on the team's roster! This year, the team is using "Whatever it Takes" as their slogan. It reminded me of one of the first blog entries I put on this site. Like the New Orleans Saints, "Be A Saint", isn't "Whatever it takes" a great follow-up slogan for our spiritual lives and the ever present quest for holiness?
This "Whatever It Takes" is also a great segue into today's feast of St. Matthew. In his Wednesday audience addresses on the Apostles back in 2006, Pope Benedict said this about St. Matthew the Apostle:
Another reflection prompted by the Gospel narrative is that Matthew responds instantly to Jesus' call: "he rose and followed him". The brevity of the sentence clearly highlights Matthew's readiness in responding to the call. For him it meant leaving everything, especially what guaranteed him a reliable source of income, even if it was often unfair and dishonourable. Evidently, Matthew understood that familiarity with Jesus did not permit him to pursue activities of which God disapproved.
The application to the present day is easy to see: it is not permissible today either to be attached to things that are incompatible with the following of Jesus, as is the case with riches dishonestly achieved.
Jesus once said, mincing no words: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Mt 19: 21).
This is exactly what Matthew did: he rose and followed him! In this "he rose", it is legitimate to read detachment from a sinful situation and at the same time, a conscious attachment to a new, upright life in communion with Jesus.
Yes, God loves us, created us, calls us to follow him (blah blah blah), but in the end it's up to us to respond to that call. Am I willing to do "whatever it takes" in my response to God's plan for me? "Come, follow me." Yeah, Lord, this week isn't so good. Ooooh, I've got painters coming next week. I'd love to go to confession, really, but now's not a good time.
Be a saint! How? That's easy: Whatever it takes!
Oh, and by the way, to see the Pope's whole discourse on St. Matthew, click here. Or even better, to order a copy of the book of all Pope Benedict's addresses on the apostles, click here.