HOMILY THEME: Stomach Evangelization: Winning Souls Through Eating and Drinking.

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu



_“And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.” *(Matthew 9:10)*_

Yesterday, our Gospel passage spoke of how Jesus was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Today, coincidentally, Jesus is again at table but this time, in the house of Matthew. One thing that is clear is that Jesus was more concerned about winning souls than trying to make an impression on others. He didn’t care about the bad reputation He was having from those who felt that holy people should never be seen eating and drinking.

Indeed, just as the Pharisees were wondering why Jesus would not stop the woman who was touching his feet, they actually came to Jesus’ disciples to ask: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” In response to this question, Jesus himself said: “Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick.” In other words, by eating and drinking with those considered sinners by the society, Jesus was bringing healing and restoration down to their level.

Indeed, we would not be wrong to say Jesus was a master at stomach evangelisation. Through eating and drinking, Jesus brought conversion to Zacchaeus as well as his friends and relatives. Zacchaeus felt so honoured and touched by Jesus that he publicly announced to return in double fold anyone he had defrauded in the past. This stomach strategy also worked excellently in the case of Matthew whose feast we celebrate today. By sharing a meal with Matthew, Jesus not only ensured his conversion, Matthew became one of the Twelve Apostles.

You might not have thought about this before but the clear fact is that sharing a meal with someone can actually serve as a very powerful tool for evangelization. When we sit down to eat, we not only put food in our bodies, we also enter into each other’s world. It is not surprising that mealtime still remains the most preferred means of creating and solidifying friendships between people all over the world. Even businesses now employ the strategy of taking customers out for lunch to advertise their products and woo investors over.

Today, many families have lost the culture of eating together. The dining table either no longer exists or has become one large artefact in the living room that serves as an extension of the store. All kinds of things are kept on top of the dining table and the chairs are never in sight. Note that it is not the food that matters but the atmosphere created by the process of eating and drinking together that matters. God made us in such a way that we are most relaxed and attentive and are most likely to pour out the depths of our hearts during a meal.

Mealtime provides an opportunity for Fathers and Mothers to teach their children lifetime lessons, an opportunity to really check up on their children and know what worries them the most. If Jesus won souls over through the platform of the dining table, then parents can win back the souls of their children ravaged by the present scourge of immorality and other vices in our society. If as a family, you no longer eat together, just know you are missing out on a great opportunity for real growth and spiritual nourishment. Why not consider working out your schedule to allow for at least one meal together daily and note that it is not about the food per say but the chance to talk to each other.

As we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew today, we not only reflect on lessons to be learnt from the manner of his call, we also reflect on the fact that God has called each of us as well through the various gifts and talents he bestowed upon us. This is what St. Paul teaches us in today’s first reading. No human being is without special gifts. No human being is useless as far as the building up of the body of Christ is concerned. Find out your special gifts today!

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my heart to creative ways of spreading the Good News to others. Amen. St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Pray for us. Amen

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Feast of St. Matthew. Bible Study: Ephesians 4:1-13, Psalm 19:2-5 and Matthew 9:9-13)

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