St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Son of Alphaeus, he lived at Capenaum on Lake Genesareth. He was a Roman tax collector, a position equated with collaboration with the enemy by those from whom he collected taxes. Jesus’ contemporaries were surprised to see the Christ with a traitor, but Jesus explained that he had come “not to call the just, but sinners.”
Matthew’s Gospel is given pride of place in the canon of the New Testament, and was written to convince Jewish readers that their anticipated Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East. [More at SQPN: St. Matthew]
- Magnificat: St. Matthew
- WikiPedia: St. Matthew
- Catholic Online: St. Matthew
- Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Matthew
- 12 Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Matthew
- American Catholic: St. Matthew
Martyrdom of St. Matthew
After the Ascension, Saint Matthew remained for over ten years in Judea, writing his Gospel there in about the year 44, to teach his countrymen that the kingdom of heaven had already been instigated, for Jesus was their true Lord and the King foretold by the prophets. He departed then to preach the Faith in Egypt and especially in Ethiopia, where he remained for twenty-three years. When he resurrected the son of the Ethiopian king who had received him, the miracle brought about the conversion of the royal house and with them the entire province.
The king’s daughter consecrated herself to God with several other maidens. When a young man wished to marry the beautiful Iphigenia, Saint Matthew invited him to come and listen to a discourse he was to make to that community of virgins, to hear what he would say to them. When the Apostle extolled the state of virginity, the suitor became enraged and arranged to have him slain as he came from the altar. Saint Hippolyte calls Saint Matthew the victim and martyr of holy virginity. More here…
St. Matthew is both apostle and evangelist. The gospel selection from Matthew 9:9-13 recounts his vocation. He had been working on his stall when the Lord passed by and called him, and he immediately got up to follow Him. A tax collector was considered an enemy of the people of Israel because he collaborated with the enemy and took advantage of his own people. According to the economy of the temple, he was unsaveable, since to be purified from sins, one has to go to the Temple for the ritual sacrifices. And there is the rub: one has to buy the animal to be sacrificed with temple coins that were exchanged for one’s money. And the tax collector’s money was considered "blood money" — a traitor’s wages — and was unacceptable, to say the least.
The second part of the selection is a justification of Matthew’s call. Jesus, the New Temple, explains to the Pharisees why he associates himself with tax collectors and sinners: "I did not come to call the righteous," he says, "but sinners."
The responsorial psalm (Psalm 19) is ordinarily used in Church liturgy for the saints who have brought the gospel to the far corners of the earth. The psalm celebrates the word of God as it resounds through all the world through the silent witness of the sun and the stars. Matthew brought the gospel to Ethiopia and there rendered lasting witness to the Gospel as a martyr.
The first reading is from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:1-7.11-13. Here the apostle describes how each one in the community should work for the unity of the Church according to the charism one has received. Paul then enumerates the different charisms: apostle, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers… All these gifts are ordered towards the building up of the Body of Christ. Paul and Matthew have done their part. Now it is our turn…
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