The Feast of St Matthew ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: EPH 4:1-7, 11-13

Responsorial Psalm: PS 19:2-3, 4-5

Gospel: MT 9:9-13

Liturgical colour: Red.

Today, we come together as the church to commemorate the Feast day of St Matthew the Apostle.  Matthew was originally named Levi, but was renamed Matthew by our Lord Jesus.   He was a tax collector (i.e., a publican) and he spent his days  in Capernaum, collecting the tax money from his fellow citizens.

We can understand the type of employment which he held, and how his country folk felt about his trade, by reading what he wrote regarding publicans in his Gospel. We find that the word “publican” is used to mean a derogatory term and is often associated with “sinner” and “heathen.” For example, Matthew writes that if we love others as they love us we do not deserve a reward because even publicans do the same (Matt. 5:46-47). He also mentioned that Jesus was viewed negatively because he was accused of eating with such publicans and sinners (Matt. 9:10-11; 11:19). Another reference is shown to us when he writes that if a Christian is corrected by an elder of the Church but does not listen, he is to be treated as a heathen and a publican (Matt. 18:17). Finally, we see that publicans are even grouped with harlots, when Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees, said: “Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).

One day while still named Levi , he was applying his trade when the Lord, Jesus walked by and, upon seeing him, said, “Follow me.” It is said of Levi that at that moment, “he left all, rose up, and followed Him” ( Luke 5:27, . Matthew 9:9). Next, Luke writes:

Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But [the] scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” And Jesus answering said unto them, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (5:29-32)

Little is written about Matthew throughout the rest of the Gospel except that he was one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Matthew stayed in Jerusalem preaching the gospel with the other Apostles. It is at this time that he wrote his gospel. When it came time for the Apostles to disperse to preach the Gospel throughout the whole world, he preached in Macedonia, Syria, Persia, Parthia, Media and Ethiopia all the while establishing churches.

Let us pray:

O Glorious St. Matthew,

in your Gospel you portray Jesus

as the longed-for Messiah

who fulfilled the Prophets

of the Old Covenant and

as the Lawgiver who founded

a Church of the New Covenant.

Obtain for us the grace to see

Jesus living in His Church and

to follow His teaching in our lives

on Earth so that we may live forever

with Him in heaven.

Amen.

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