The Pilgrim Log

Weekly Inspiration to Live Your Daily Pilgrimage

How Should I Respond to God’s Gifts?

A Recap of This Sunday’s Word

  • At Mass this Sunday, we heard the prophet Amos says “Woe to the complacent…they shall be the first to go into exile.” When we take God for granted and live for ourselves, there are consequences.
  • In the second reading St. Paul says, “Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” We are reminded that our faith demands that we be vigilant and hold fast to the truths that have been revealed to us. It takes a great effort on our part, but the reward is happiness now and for all eternity.
  • In the Gospel, we have a parable about a man who was complacent and had no concern about eternal life until it was too late. He had the resources to help others, but he lived only for himself. His selfishness blinded him, and he didn’t even notice poor Lazarus who was starving at his door.

The Test for Us All

We have all heard this Gospel many times and perhaps we have said to ourselves, “If I were rich, I would be generous.” However, this Gospel is not just directed to the rich. It is directed to each of us; to you and to me. Life on earth is a test of our generosity.  God has given us all something that He wants us to share with others, and we will never reach our potential for happiness until we share what we have.

What Do I Have to Share?

For some, what they have to share may be obvious, like the rich man in the Gospel. For others, it may be a gift they have not even discovered yet. Especially in the spiritual life, the gifts God gives us may remain hidden until we begin to invest in our faith. When an adult makes a decision to become a Catholic, he or she needs a sponsor to journey with them through the process we call R.C.I.A. Usually the sponsor is a spouse, fiancé or friend, but times it is a member of the parish they may not even know. In every case, the sponsor receives as much as the candidate because the gift of faith is being discovered, renewed, and deepened with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What God Has to Give

Our Catholic faith is the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE, the greatest treasure we can possess. It affords us the most intimate relationship possible with our Creator through the sacraments of his Church. How is it that God loves us so much that he allows us to receive him under the appearance of bread and wine, and he rests within us?

Responding to God’s Gifts

God is serious about this idea of not living for ourselves, as our Sunday readings indicate. We all have something to share.

  • No matter how much money we make, we should share generously as a sign of our trust in God who is the source of all blessings.
  • God has given us gifts and talents that he expects us to use in our faith community. We each have 24 hours every day; how much of this do we invest in laying hold of eternal life?
  • We have heard people say they don’t have time to pray. Our prayer is our connection to God ,and the more connected we are, the greater the possibility of discovering his plan for us.

The readings today challenge us to discover, live, and share our faith for our good and the good of the whole Church. Faith is a gift from God, but believing is a choice. In one of his talks, Bishop Fulton Sheen said the only thing we really have control of is our free will. God has made it possible for us to discover his plan that will lead us to happiness now and forever, but it depends upon the choices we make.

Lord, give us the grace to choose wisely and not to become complacent.


Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

Follow Me: Why Matthew Followed Jesus

Photo shows an ancient synagogue amid the ruins of Capernaum

We recently celebrated the Feast Day of St. Matthew, when the Church remembers one of the Lord’s apostles and his conversion. Matthew’s conversion occurred in Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee, where he worked as a tax collector. (That was not a popular job; most tax collectors in those days were known to ‘cheat’ from others.)

While in Capernaum, Jesus sees “a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me. And he got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9). I always found this passage intriguing… how someone who hears the words of Jesus to follow him, gets up, leaves everything and follows!

Saint Bede, in one of his homilies explains it very well:

Jesus saw Matthew not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of man. […] Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way, Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, hand incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.

We can take those same words from Saint Bedes’s homily directed to us: Jesus sees you/me! When we experience the gaze of the Son of God, our Savior, how can we not be changed? Whether that gaze is an experience at a retreat, an encounter in prayer, by meeting someone, on pilgrimage, or even through trials and suffering; the gaze of Christ can reach our interiority and flood our minds with the light of grace.

Are You Feeling Unworthy of Answering Christ’s Call?

A variation on Caravaggio’s “The Calling of St. Matthew” emphasizing Christ and Levi

Because Jesus said that he came to call sinners, he has provided every single one of us with a path to forgiveness and redemption.

There have been a few times in my life where I felt unworthy of Christ’s mercy due to bad choices that resulted in broken relationships and in one or two cases led to public scorn and humiliation. As I have gotten to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I now know better.

Regardless of what we may lose in this life as the result of making a bad choice, no matter what sins we may commit, Jesus Christ will never distance himself from us. As Christians this is our reality. No matter what, Jesus says to us, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

With the feast of St. Matthew coming up on Saturday, September 21, this is the perfect time to reflect on how those who are furthest from holiness – like Matthew the tax collector – can become a model of the acceptance of God’s mercy. The way in which Jesus called Matthew to “follow me,” is a timeless moment that is applicable to each of us.

The Calling of Matthew, then known as Levi, the son of Alphaeus

In Jesus’ time, there was perhaps no one more despicable than a tax collector, Levi’s chosen profession. The Jews classed them with harlots, heathens, and the worst of sinners.

So, imagine Matthew’s surprise when Jesus gazed upon him and said, “Follow me” (cf. Matthew 9:9-13). The words and gaze of Jesus must have washed over Matthew with such warmth that he was overcome by the love, peace, and mercy of Christ.

In this instant, Matthew realized, Christ is calling me! He knows all about me! And still, he loves me! And, so it was that Matthew, without hesitation, “rose and followed him” (cf. Matthew 9:9).

It is this type of transformative grace that Jesus wants all of us to experience. We must respond with conviction and say, “Lord Jesus, be the Lord of my life.”

Jesus does not exclude anyone from his friendship. When the Pharisees and scribes complained about Jesus dining with Matthew, and other tax collectors & sinners (all deemed unclean by the Jews), Jesus exclaimed, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:17).

The Parable of the Lost Sheep, Luke 15: 1-7

Luke, chapter 15 captures another instance where the Pharisees question why Jesus permits tax collectors and sinners to gather around him. To this, Jesus relates his parable about leaving the 99 sheep to go after the lost one until he finds it. Our Lord concludes by saying, “…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (cf. Luke 15:7).

In Jesus’ time, when you sat together at table with someone, they were regarded as a brother or sister. Present at the Last Supper was Matthew, considered by the world to be among the worst of sinners, and several fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John), a job that was common and unimportant.

No matter how lowly or unworthy others thought these men to be, the fact that they were sinners or did ordinary work did not exclude them from Christ’s call. In the same way that Matthew humbled himself, we too must be willing to admit that we are one of the sinners that Jesus came to call, and in so doing adopt a new, upright life in communion with Jesus.


Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.