Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Today is the feast day of Saint Matthew
O Almighty God,
whose blessed Son called Matthew the tax collector
to be an apostle and evangelist:
give us grace to forsake
the selfish pursuit of gain
and the possessive love of
that we may follow in the way
of your son Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Collect for Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Common Worship)
This reflection draws on the SIFT method of hermeneutics: sensing, intuition, feeling, and thinking (see Leslie J. Francis and Andrew Village: Preaching with All our Soul, Continuum, 2008).
This collect is about Matthew, apostle and Evangelist. Become sensing people, and recall the moment of Matthew’s call.
See Matthew going about his business, doing his day job as an officer of the occupying Roman forces. See Matthew applauded by the foreign rulers. See Matthew despised, feared, and hated by his fellow countrymen. What kind of self-interest would lead to such treachery?
See Jesus approach and expect the stern rebuke. Surely Jesus could be no friend of tax-collectors and sinners? Watch Jesus’s lips and read the call: “Follow me.” Watch Jesus’s lips, and see Matthew turn his back on his old way of life, and walk toward the new beginning.
Become intuitive people, and reflect on the possessive love of riches.
For Matthew, the possessive love of riches led him to the custom-house. The attractions of a secure job are understandable enough. The pension scheme underwritten by a successful international consortium linked to the ruling classes makes good sense. Have you been tempted to follow the same path?
For Matthew, the possessive love of riches led him away from his cultural heritage, away from his family roots, away from the religious traditions of his ancestors, and away from obedience to his God. Have you been tempted to follow the same path?
Become feeling people, and experience the pain that Matthew’s call caused to the early disciples. Here was a newly formed group of people charged to proclaim God’s reign through what they did and taught. Then suddenly the credibility of the whole group was undermined by Matthew’s call.
Publicly, the Pharisees ridiculed the new leader’s lack of discernment, his lack of discrimination. “He eats,” they said, “with tax-collectors and with sinners.”
Privately, the common people looked askance. The new leader recruited disciples who could not be trusted. Was Matthew not a mole for the occupying forces? Probably, the Roman rulers wondered what had happened to their trusted tax-collector, who had gone missing so suddenly from the custom-house.
I wonder whether today’s Church would be so eager to run the risk of recruiting Matthew to proclaim God’s reign.
Become thinking people, and reflect on the distinctive voice of Matthew’s Gospel.
Without Matthew’s voice, the beginning of the Gospel would now feel so incomplete. Without Matthew, there are no angelic announcement to Joseph, no arrival of Magi from the east, no star of Bethlehem, no gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, no flight into Egypt, and no massacre of the innocents.
Without Matthew’s voice, the Gospel ending would now feel so incomplete. Without Matthew, there is no commission to go forth to make all nations disciples of Jesus, and no commission to baptise people everywhere in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Without Matthew’s voice, the call of Levi, the tax-collector in Mark, remains the recruitment of the enigmatic 13th disciple. At least the re-designation of the tax-collector as Matthew sorted out the mathematics of the leaders of God’s new people.
The Revd Dr Leslie J. Francis is Professor of Religions and Education, University of Warwick, and Canon Theologian of Bangor Cathedral.
Saint Matthew:Thanks for your book. You have led many, many, people to the Lord. Thank you very much for your words. May you guide me into a life of service for Jesus Christ. I look forward to seeing you in heaven one day and I am pleased to have your name, which means Gift from God!
Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr
Died near Hierapolis or Ethiopia
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Eastern Catholic Churches
some other Protestant Churches
Major shrine Salerno, Italy
Feast 21 September (Western Christianity)
16 November (Eastern Christianity)
Patronage Accountants, Salerno, Italy, and others
Matthew the Evangelist (מתי/מתתיהו, "Gift of Yahweh", Standard Hebrew and Tiberian Hebrew: Mattay or Mattithyahu; Septuagint Greek: Ματθαῖος, Matthaios) was, according to Christian tradition, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and one of the four Evangelists.
Matthew, a former tax collector, composed the Gospel of Christ. In addition, the Gospel according to the Hebrews is alleged to have been written by Matthew as well.
Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus, a Matthew is mentioned in Mt 9:9 and Mt 10:3 as a former tax collector from Capernaum who was called into the circle of the Twelve by Jesus. He is also named among the number of the Twelve, but without identification of his background, in Mk 3:18, Lk 6:15 and Acts 1:13. He is often equated with the figure of Levi, son of Alpheus, also a tax collector, who is mentioned in Mk 2:13 and Lk 5:27.
Early church fathers Epiphanius of Salamis and Jerome mention a first gospel, the now lost Gospel of the Hebrews, said to have been written by Matthew. Epiphanius does not make his own the claim about a Gospel of the Hebrews written by Matthew, a claim that he merely attributes to the heretical Ebionites. Some modern biblical scholars believe Matthew was the author of the canonical gospel, while some others disagree. There is currently no consensus on this question, and the reasons cited by both sides are widely open to debate. Those who hold that the gospel was written by someone other than the apostle refer to the gospel author as "Matthew the Evangelist" and the apostle as "Matthew the Apostle". Those who view the gospel author and the apostle as the same person use both titles when referring to him.
Matthew was born in First Century Judea. He was a Galilean and the son of Alpheus During the Roman occupation, Matthew collected taxes from the Hebrew people for Herod Antipas. His Tax Office was located in Capernaum. Jews who became rich in such a fashion, were despised and considered outcasts. However, as a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic (but probably not Greek or Latin).
It was in this setting, near what is today Almagor, that Jesus called Matthew to be one of the Twelve Disciples. After his call, Matthew invited the Lord 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”
Matthew's ministry in the New Testament is likewise complex. When Matthew is mentioned he usually paired him with Thomas. As a disciple, he followed Christ, and was one of the witnesses of the Resurrection and the Ascension. Afterwards, Matthew along with Mary, James and other close followers of the Lord, withdrew to the Upper Chamber, in Jerusalem. At about this time James succeeded Jesus of Nazareth as the head of the Church in Jerusalem.
They remained in and about Jerusalem and proclaimed that Jesus son of Joseph was the promised Messiah. These early Jewish Christians were thought to have been called Nazarenes. It is near certain that Matthew belonged to this sect, as both the New Testament and the early Talmud affirm this to be true.
Matthew, for 15 years, preached the Gospel in Hebrew to the Jewish community in Judea. Later in his ministry, he would travel to Gentile nations and spread the Gospel to the Ethiopians, Macedonians, Persians, and Parthians. He is said to have died a natural death either in Ethiopia or in Macedonia. However, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church each hold the tradition that Matthew died as a martyr.
St. Matthew and the Angel by RembrandtOrigen said the first book was written by Matthew.This Gospel was composed in Hebrew near Jerusalem for Hebrew Christians and translated into Greek, but the Greek copy was lost. The Hebrew original was kept at the Library of Caesarea. The Nazarene Community transcribed a copy for Jerome which he used in his work. Matthew's Gospel was called the Gospel according to the Hebrews or sometimes the Gospel of the Apostles and it was once believed that it was the original to the Greek Matthew found in the Bible, but this has been largely disproved by modern Biblical Scholars.
Matthew is recognized as a Saint in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches. His feast day is celebrated on September 21 in the West, November 16 in the East (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 16 November currently falls on 29 November of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is also commemorated by the Orthodox, together with the other Apostles, on 30 June (13 July), the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles.
Like the other evangelists, Matthew is often depicted in Christian art with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7. The one that accompanies him is in the form of a winged man. The three paintings of Matthew by Caravaggio in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, where he is depicted as called by Christ from his profession as gatherer, are among the landmarks of Western art.
Prayers to St. Matthew
Patron of Accountants & Bankers
to Look Beyond
Dear Levi, now known as Matthew, you were first a publican, a tax collector, and then a gatherer of souls for Christ after immediately following His call. Later you wrote wonderful accounts of your Jewish brethren of what Jesus, descendant of David, said and did as Teacher and Savior.
Make all accountants imitate your example in giving careful and honest accounts. Amen.
God, You chose St. Matthew the Publican to become an Apostle. By following his example and benefiting by his prayers, may we always follow and abide by Your will. Amen.
God of mercy, You chose a tax collector, St. Matthew, to share the dignity of the apostles. By his example and prayers, help us to follow Christ and remain faithful in Your service. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
feast day: September 21