Tuesday, September 21, 1999
First Reading: Ephesians 4: 1-7, 11-13
Psalms: Psalm 19: 2-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9: 9-13
FEAST OF SAINT MATTHEW, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST
One of the greatest evangelists is, of course, Saint Matthew the Apostle, whose account of Christ's teaching and life, the first book of the New Testament, are the most detailed and complete - the most accurate catechism, if you will, for the Christian faithful. As his gospels reveal, He wasn't always Matthew. He was born in Capharnaum with the name Levi the son of Alphaeus who was a tax collector. As was the custom of those times, the father's trade was handed down to the son and so Matthew, too, became a tax collector. As we all know he abandoned being a publican when called by Our Lord to follow him while sitting in the tax-collector's seat in Capharnaum. Matthew's Gospel, written in Aramaic - the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, was written to fill a yearning need to reach his fellow Palestinians who included both believers and non-believers. For believers his writings served as a token of his regard and as encouragement for the trials to come, specifically to prevent falling back into the ways of Judaism; for the unbelievers, his gospel was intended to convince them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah in the flesh in Whom all promises of the Old Testament had been fulfilled in a spiritual way as opposed to the more expected material or carnal manner that He would come as a conquering king. Matthew emphasized this, referring to the "Kingdom of God" or the "Kingdom of Heaven" in well over 50 incidences in his gospel. After the Ascension and Pentecost Sunday, Matthew remained in Jerusalem writing, but shortly after the persecution of Harold Agrippa I began in 42, he left Israel to preach in Parthia and Persia first, and then later went to Ethiopia where he received his crown of martyrdom and was reunited with his Master Whom he had written so faithfully, fully and accurately for and about. His relics were discovered and transfered in the 10th Century to Salerno Italy at the coordination of Pope Gregory VII.