Saint of the Day ~ September 21

SAINT MATTHEW (?-1st Century), Apostle and Evangelist
Patron saint of accountants, bankers, bookkeepers,
customs officers and tax collectors

Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, who was also a publican, that is, a tax-collector for the Romans, and who was despised and distrusted by his fellow Jews for his profession.

Matthew, also referred to as Levi in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, was the son of Alpheus and a Galilean, living in the town of Capernaum where Jesus was also living. As a tax-collector, he collected customs duties for Herod Antipas, and, although a Jew, was despised by the Pharisees who hated all publicans.

After Jesus called out to him and said, “Follow me”, and after the dinner Matthew had with Jesus, as described in the Gospels, there is no further mention made of Matthew, except in the list of the Apostles.

As a disciple and an Apostle of Christ, he followed our Lord, accompanying Him up to the time of our Lord’s Passion and was one of the witnesses to His Resurrection in Galilee. He was also among the Apostles who were present at the Ascension. Afterwards, he withdrew to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, praying in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:13-14) while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.

In addition to Matthew’s place as one of the chosen Twelve, the majority of scholars also believe that he is one of the four Evangelists. His Gospel, written mainly for Jewish-Christians sometime after 70 A.D., draws a great deal from what Mark had already written, together with other written and oral sources. And since his audience was primarily Jewish, Matthew demonstrates heavily that the New Testament is the continuation and fulfillment of all that was written in the Old.

Although the Church venerates him as a martyr, it is not exactly known how or where he died, although a common tradition holds that he spread the Gospel throughout Ethiopia and the Near East, and that his death may have occurred during his missionary journeys.

Reflecting on Saint Matthew’s calling, from the pursuit of dishonest financial gain to the heights of holiness and Divine inspiration, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in 2006 that “…in the figure of Matthew, the Gospels present to us a true and proper paradox: those who seem to be the farthest from holiness can even become a model of the acceptance of God’s Mercy and offer a glimpse of its marvelous effects in their own lives.”

For more on Matthew’s calling and his response to our Lord’s invitation, and how it relates to our own faith journey, please read today’s “Meditation for the Day”.

We celebrate his Feastday on September 21

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(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper of Saint Matthew)

“God of Mercy, You chose a tax collector, Saint Matthew, to share the dignity of the Apostles. By his example and prayers, help us to follow Christ and remain faithful in Your service.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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