Tuesday, January 15, 2008

St. Matthew the Apostle

Saint Matthew the Apostle
Also known as
Levi; Apostle of Ethiopia
Memorial
21 September
Profile
Son of Alphaeus, he lived at Capenaum on Lake Genesareth. He was a Roman tax collector, a position equated with collaboration with the enemy by those from whom he collected taxes. Jesus' contemporaries were surprised to see the Christ with a traitor, but Jesus explained that he had come "not to call the just, but sinners."

Matthew's Gospel is given pride of place in the canon of the New Testament, and was written to convince Jewish readers that their anticipated Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East.
Name Meaning
gift of God
Patronage
accountants; bankers; bookkeepers; customs officers; financial officers; guards; money managers; Salerno, Italy; security forces; security guards; stock brokers; tax collectors; diocese of Trier, Germany

Representation
angel holding a pen or inkwell; bag of coins; halberd; inkwell; king; lance; man holding money; money bag; money box; purse; spear; sword; winged man; young man
St. Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the first Gospel. This has been the constant tradition of the Church and is confirmed by the Gospel itself. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax collectors place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax collector by profession. He is to be identified with the "Levi" of Mark and Luke.

His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.

St. Matthew's Gospel was written to fill a sorely-felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My Kingdom is not of this world." His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, "Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?"

Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St. Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic, the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands. Another tradition places the composition of his Gospel either between the time of this departure and the Council of Jerusalem, i.e., between 42 AD and 50 AD or even later. Definitely, however, the Gospel, depicting the Holy City with its altar and temple as still existing, and without any reference to the fulfillment of our Lord's prophecy, shows that it was written before the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70 AD, and this internal evidence confirms the early traditions.

Prayer to Saint Matthew the Apostle

O Glorious Saint Matthew, in your Gospel you portray Jesus as the longed-for Messiah who fulfilled the Prophets of the Old Covenant and as the new 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 teachings in our lives on earth so that we may live forever with him in heaven. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Matthew

Dear Levi, now known as Matthew, you were first a publican, a taxcollector, and then a gatherer of souls for Christ after immediately following his call. Later you wrote worderful accounts for 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.
Prayer to Saint Matthew the Apostle

Dear publican become a Saint, after once gathering taxes and tolls how wonderful was your conversion by grace when discarding your earthly possessions you followed the Poor Man of Nazareth. The Mammon of Money is still worshiped. Inspire bankers with kindness and with the desire to help where they can; for what is done to the least, to the poor, is done to Jesus, the Son of Man. Amen.

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