How many of us honor a request on the first time it’s given?
Matthew, a tax collector from Caperneum, changed his life when he answered Christ’s call.
According to Catholic Online, little is known about the man who would become our patron saint, except that he was the son of Alpheus and he was likely born in first-century Galilee.
Matthew worked as a tax collector, which was a hated profession during the time of Christ.
According to the Gospel, he was working at a collection booth in Capernaum when Christ came to him and asked, “Follow me.”
With this simple call, Matthew became a disciple of Christ.
After his call, Matthew invited Jesus home for a feast. On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32)
Matthew was originally named Levi, but was reportedly renamed by Jesus. In Hebrew, the name Matthew means “the gift of Yahweh.”
A celebrated evangelist, it is from Matthew we know of the many doings of Christ and the message Christ spread of salvation for all people who come to God through Him. The gospel account of Matthew tells the same story as that found in the other three Gospels, so scholars are certain of its authenticity.
His book is the first of the four gospels in the New Testament.
Many years following the death of Christ, around 41 and 50 AD, Matthew wrote his gospel account. He wrote the book in Aramaic, though he was also likely fluent in Greek, in the hope that his account would convince his fellow people that Jesus was the Messiah and that His kingdom had been fulfilled in a spiritual way. It was an important message at a time when almost everyone was expecting the return of a militant messiah brandishing a sword.
It is thought he departed for other lands to escape persecution sometime after 42 AD. According to various legends he fled to Parthia and Persia, or Ethiopia.
Nothing is recorded of Matthew’s passing. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church each hold the tradition that Matthew died as a martyr, although this was rejected by the gnostic heretic Heracleon as early as the second century.
Saint Matthew is often depicted with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7, which reads, “The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third living creature had a human face, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.”
Matthew was a tax collector and is therefore the patron saint of accountants and bankers.
His feast day is Sept. 21 and is commemorated by the church on the closest Sunday.
We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(This year, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church will be celebrating its 170th anniversary. For more information on the weekend-long event, click here.)