Scripture for the day – 21 September 2020.

Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist 

Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the “tax farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners” (see Matthew 9:11-13). So, it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.


First Reading: Ephesians (4:1-7, 11-13)

The Church is one body, under the leadership of the apostles.

I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (from Ps 19)

Response: Their message goes out through all the earth

The heavens declare the glory of God.

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day pours out the word today,

and night to night imparts knowledge. (R./)

Not a word nor a discourse

whose voice is not heard.

Through all the earth their voice resounds,

and to the ends of the world, their message. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (9:9-13)

 A tax-collector is called to be an apostle of Jesus.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflections – Tax-collector and Gospel-writer

The name Matthew is derived from the Hebrew Mattija, shortened to Mattai in post-Biblical Hebrew. In Greek, it is spelt Maththaios and sometimes Matthaios, but itis unclear which of the two spellings is the original. He is mentioned five times in the New Testament; first in Matthew 9:9, when called by Jesus to follow Him, and then four times in the list of the Apostles, where he is mentioned in the seventh (Luke 6:15, and Mark 3:18) or the eighth place (Matthew 10:3, and Acts 1:13). Probably the man “sitting in the custom-house” (Mt 9:9) is the same as Levi, recorded in Mark 2:14, and Luke 5:27.  It seems that  Levi was the original name of the man who was subsequently called Matthew; the phrase “Who was called Matthew” (Mt 9:9,) would indicate this.

Instances of one man having two names are frequent among the Jews. It is true that the same person usually bears a Hebrew name such as “Shaoul” and a Greek name, Paulos. But we have also an example of individuals with two Hebrew names as, for instance, Joseph-Caiaphas, Simon-Cephas, etc. It is probable that Mattija, “gift of Iaveh,” was the name conferred upon the tax-gatherer by Jesus Christ when He called him to the Apostolate, and by it he was thenceforth known among his Christian brethren, Levi being his original name.

Matthew – Son of Alpheus

Matthew, the son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14) was a Galilean, although Eusebius says that he was a Syrian. As tax-gatherer at Capharnaum, he collected custom duties for Herod Antipas, and, although a Jew, was despised by the Pharisees as a collaborator with the Romans. When summoned by Jesus, he accepted and then held a feast in his house, where tax-gatherers and sinners sat at table with Christ and His disciples. When the Pharisees protested, Jesus rebuked them and declared, “I came not to call the just, but sinners.”

There is no further mention of Matthew, except in the list of the apostles. He travelled about with Jesus up to the time of His Passion and, in Galilee, was one of the witnesses of His Resurrection. He was also amongst those present at the Ascension, and later in the upper chamber in Jerusalem, along with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:10 and 1:14).

Matthew’s Career

Of Matthew’s subsequent career we have no firm data. St Irenaeus held us that Matthew preached the Gospel among the Hebrews, and Eusebius maintains that, before going into other countries, Matthew wrote his Gospel in their mother tongue (Aramaic). Ancient writers do not agree on which countries were evangelized by Matthew, but some mention a land to the south of the Caspian Sea and some Persia and the kingdom of the Parthians, Macedonia, and Syria.

Various writings that are now considered apocryphal have been attributed to St Matthew. In the “Evangelia Apocrypha” (Leipzig, 1876), Tischendorf reproduced a Latin document entitled: “De Ortu beatae Mariae et infant Salvatoris,” supposedly written in Hebrew by St Matthew the Evangelist, and translated into Latin by Jerome, the priest. It is an abridged adaptation of the “Protoevangelium” of St James, a Greek Apocryphon of the second century. This Pseudo-Matthew dates from the middle of the end of the sixth century.

The Latin Church celebrates the feast of St Matthew on 21 September 2013. and the Greek Church on November 16. His symbol is a winged man, with a pen in hand as an emblem of his writing the Gospel. The core of his story is captured by Caravaggio’s marvellous triptych about St. Matthew in the Church of St. Louis of France, in Rome.

Saint of the day – Saint Matthew’s Story

Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the “tax farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners” (see Matthew 9:11-13). So, it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

Saint Matthew

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that many tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus’ answer was, “Those who well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.

 

Edited and Published by Carlisle Taxis Limited

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