On falling in with a retired man living in my compound, I asked him what he had worked at. When he said he had been with an insurance company doing actuary analyses, I let the matter drop. I walked away thinking, “What a terrible thing to do with the only life given you. Poor fellow!
But looking at the church calendar today, and seeing that it is Matthew’s feast day, I begin thinking about Jesus having dinner with all those tax collectors. They were worse than insurance men, and yet Jesus paid them the compliment of his company.
Catholic mothers used to pray for a priest son, or maybe a pediatrician or a beloved school teacher. Those are three of maybe a hundred thousand occupations making up Jacksonville’s work force. Those are more noble callings than that of the garbage collectors, the launderers, or the guys who paint yellow and white lines on our streets. But are priests, pediatricians or teachers more necessary? No. Would we want to do without garbage collections, clean underwear or the lines that keep cars from crashing into each other?
St. Benedict used to say that work can be a perfect prayer, and he had no favorite kinds of work. Each of us is like one of the several hundred small pieces in a watch. Since it can’t operate if even one of the little parts is missing, all the parts are of equal worth. The honor Jesus showed to St. Matthew’s profession let’s us see that what matters is not what we do, but how we do it.