“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. … Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message.” (Psalm 19:2,5)
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of St. Matthew (September 21, 2022): EPH 4:1-7,11-13; PS 19:2-3-4-5; MT 9:9-13
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St. Matthew has long been considered the author of one of the Gospels of Jesus Christ, although...
On this day celebrating St. Matthew, we have the opportunity to once more remember the people who Jesus drew close to Him as He began to preach the Kingdom of heaven and build His Church. Most of the Apostles were likely ordinary working men; that was certainly true of the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James and John. But Matthew was a tax collector -- a Jew collaborating with the enemy, the hated Roman invaders. He had probably grown rich by demanding exorbitant taxes from his neighbors and keeping some for himself. And it also meant that he would have been scorned and shunned for his sins. So the very idea of Christ seeing Matthew at the customs post and selecting him to join His closest followers was shocking. Just as surprising to those witnessing this event must have been Matthew’s response. He did exactly what Jesus said. He got up and went after Him. Then the now-former tax collector invited those used to be his colleagues as well as other sinners to his home to feast and celebrate along with our Lord and His Apostles. “The Pharisees saw this and said to His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ He heard this and said, ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners’” (Matthew 9:11-13).
Except in general lists of the Apostles, we do not hear more about Matthew, also known as Levi, in the New Testament. Like the other Apostles, he is believed to have left Judea to spread the message of salvation through Jesus Christ sometime after Pentecost. He is thought to have been martyred while preaching in Ethiopia. St. Matthew has long been considered the author of one of the Gospels of Jesus Christ, although many scholars now disagree with this designation. Nevertheless, this Gospel which was once considered the earliest written, hence its position as the first of the four, has contributed immeasurably to the life of Christians around the world for all these centuries. Not surprisingly, St. Matthew is patron of tax collectors as well as accountants, bookkeepers, and bankers.