September 21, 2014
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Today is the celebration of St. Matthew the Evangelist and Apostle. As we have done previously, what follows is some background on the life and work of this saint.
All that we know of the apostle Matthew’s early life is that he was a tax collector. This was a position which caused him to be hated by the Jews, because he served the Roman oppressors, and because tax collectors were famous for shaving off extra money for themselves. But this was a life that he left behind him when Jesus said, “Follow me” (Matt. 9:9).
With the other eleven, Matthew served as an apostle of Christ, and received the same commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). According to tradition, Matthew went and preached to the Egyptians, converting the whole country, and it was there also, according to legend, that he was betrayed by the king and murdered while offering prayers in the church.
But the most famous of Matthew’s evangelism efforts is in the writing of his Gospel. The Holy Spirit spoke through Matthew as he wrote this work, which had as its aim specifically to preach the message of the Messiah to the Hebrews. In his Gospel, he points specifically to Christ as true Man (and therefore Matthew’s symbol is often that of a winged man), thereby demonstrating the humility of our Savior.
If one word were used to describe St. Matthew, it would be humility. In his Gospel he refers to himself continually as “Matthew the tax collector,” showing what humble beginnings he had. Like all Christians, Matthew’s hope was not in himself or in anything he could do, but in the almighty God who became a man such as us, so that he could show us his mercy and grant us salvation.