September 21: Feast of St Matthew
We must love God with our whole heart. Can He be loved otherwise? Is it too much that a finite heart should love infinite Beauty? I fail in this wholehearted love if I keep back anything from Him, if I am determined not to pass certain limits as proof of my love, if I absolutely refuse to sacrifice certain things which He asks, if I refuse to follow the grace which is impelling me on.
We must love God with our whole strength. If I love God with all the strength that grace gives me now, this grace is increased by each act of love, so that I should from day to day love Him more. Love for a creature is strongest at its commencement, it becomes weaker, it ends in weariness and disgust. It is quite the contrary with divine love. Weak in the beginning, it grows as we come to know God better, as we taste Him more, as we approach Him more familiarly and enjoy His presence more intimately.
COMMENT: Today is the feast of the apostle St Matthew. Christ called him, a sinful and wealthy tax collector. St Matthew followed, giving up his comfort and mammon to follow a prophet who had not even anywhere to lay his head. Matthew continued following him, even unto death.
Fr Doyle, too, placed no limits on his love of God. Perhaps the response of Fr Doyle was not as immediate as that of Matthew. It took many years of religious life before Fr Doyle was able to finally give himself (in theory) without reserve. And even then, Fr Doyle, like St Matthew, remained a sinner who had to fight against his weakness and seek to grow in holiness, always relying on the grace of God.
But both Fr Doyle and St Matthew grew in intimacy with Christ, and in turn gladly gave more and more to Him. Tradition has it that St Matthew was martyred, possibly in Ethiopia. By the time Fr Doyle was sent to the trenches, he had reached a level of detachment where he gladly shared the deprivations of his “poor brave boys”, and was even hoping to go to a leper colony if he survived the war.
Neither man started out so heroically, but responding to grace day by day transformed them in ways they never imagined. We too can be transformed if we rely on grace. It doesn’t necessarily mean martyrdom or great suffering for us, but it will mean that we will render great service to God and man if we just follow where God leads.