(September 21st in the West, November 16th in the East)
The Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, was also named Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27); he was one of the Twelve Apostles (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:45; Acts 1:13), and was brother of the Apostle James (Mark 2:14). He was a publican, or tax-collector for Rome, in a time when the Jews were under the rule of the Roman Empire. He lived in the Galilean city of Capernaum. When Matthew heard Jesus say, “Follow Me” (Mt. 9:9), he left everything and followed Christ. The other disciples did not refuse Matthew’s invitation and they visited his house, where they shared the table with Jesus and the publican’s friends. Like the host, they were also publicans and known sinners which brought criticism from the scribes and pharisees.
Publicans who collected taxes from their countrymen often did this with great profit for themselves. The Jews considered them pernicious betrayers of their country and religion. To even speak with a tax-collector was considered a sin, and to associate with one was defilement. Jesus did both saying that He had “come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mt. 9:13).
Saint Matthew witnessed the miracles and he went together with the Twelve Apostles preaching to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 10:6). He was present at the Last Supper and was a witness to the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Christ, and of His Ascension into Heaven. He was also present when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.
In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew comes first and it is said to have been written in Palestine c.82 for a community of Jewish converts. Saint Matthew wrote in Hebrew or Aramaic, and then it was translated into Greek. The Aramaic text has not survived, but a number of modern scholars have detected linguistic and stylistic peculiarities of the Greek translation that give indications of it. Most modern scholars hold that the Gospel of Matthew was written anonymously, and not by Matthew. The author is not named within the text, and western scholars have proposed that the superscription “according to Matthew” was added sometime in the second century.
According to tradition Saint Matthew brought the Gospel to Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia, and finishing his preaching in Ethiopia with a martyr’s death. He was murdered on the orders of King Hirtacus because Saint Matthew had rebuked him for lusting after a nun.
St Matthew is depicted in the chancel window in Welshampton Church.
Collect and Bible Readings for the Feast Day of St. Matthew
St. Matthew the Apostle – 21st September, 2023
(The Book of Common Prayer)
O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle and Evangelist: Grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires and inordinate love of riches, and to follow the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen
(The Book of Common Prayer)
The Epistle – 2 Corinthians 4: 1-6 (Authorised Version)
4 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel – St. Matthew 9: 9-13 (Authorised Version)
9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The feature image for this post is of the stained glass window depicting St. Matthew, by Heaton Butler, in the Chancel of Welshampton Church.