I love to run. I enjoy the exercise that comes from running. There is something about being outside and experiencing God’s creation and goodness in the context of exercise. There is a sensation of freedom my body feels only when I run.
Today is the Feast of St. Matthew, a day the Church has set aside to remember the life, ministry, and witness unto death of this apostle. Before Jesus called him, St. Matthew was called Levi (see Mark 2:14) and was a tax collector, someone who was looked down upon by his fellow Jews. He was trapped in a position of civil service to Rome that was derided by his countrymen yet was profitable for him. And Jesus called him out of the tax collecting booth into life, out of isolation and into community. Matthew heard the call, dropped everything, and followed Jesus.
The psalm appointed for this feast is 119:33-40, but I always loop in verse 32 because I can envision Matthew saying these words:
“I will run in the way of your commandments, for you set my heart free” (119:32)
Can’t you see Matthew trapped in the tax booth, a haunting symbol of the life he is trapped in? And Jesus speaks life to him, and sets him free from the fears that have dominated his life. All the hate, the disappointments, the calloused heart, and the baggage that has accumulated over the years begins to lighten. And Jesus’ words in Matthew’s gospel take on a whole new meaning: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (11:28).
I can imagine Matthew bolting out of that booth and running to the Lord because, finally, his heart had been set free.
Friends, people all around us are tired and weary. They are cooped up in lifestyles that they have built around themselves to be protected from the world. They put their best face on everyday, but they are trapped, isolated, alone, and afraid.
As we continue to fulfill our parish’s mission to live in God’s presence and live out His love and connect with the people of the neighborhoods of East Dallas and beyond, I want to “run in the way of God’s commandments, because he has set my heart free.” I want that for you, for your family, friends and co-workers. I want that for your neighbors.
Let’s ask God together to continue to set us free.
And as we run, let’s watch the broken, the tired, and the weary run in his freedom in response.