Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Today, 21 September, is the feast day of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist.  He is, of course, famous for being the tax collector called by Our Lord from his table in Capernaum.  The account is recalled in the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 9, verse 9.  St. Matthew, as we all should, responded immediately to the call: "Follow me."

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The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio, painted around 1600AD.  It hangs in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.  Notice the use of light with its origin behind Christ.

St. Matthew wrote the first of the synoptic Gospels.  His was addressed to an audience familiar and interested in the role of Christ in fulfilling the Old Covenant.  His Gospel memorably begins with the genealogy of Our Divine Lord.

It is said that after the Ascension of Christ, St. Matthew ended up preaching the Gospel in Palestine, and tradition points to his martyrdom in Ethiopia around 60AD while saying Mass.  His relics would end up in Salerno, Campania, Italy.  He is a primary patron of that city to this day, buried in the Cathedral named in his honor.  Here is a link to the cathedral's webpage -- note in particular the virtual tour (Visita virtuale) of the basilica, and, of course, "La Cripta" where St. Matthew is buried: Cathedral of Salerno Website

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Cathedral of St. Matthew in Salerno, Italy, where the saint is buried -- the Church was consecrated in 1085AD. ["Salerno 2013-05-17 09-37-10" by Berthold Werner. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

He remains, of course, the patron saint of tax collectors, bankers, accountants, and Trier in Germany.

St. Bede the Venerable (+735AD) observes the following in a homily about St. Matthew:
“Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me.” Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men.” He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: “Follow me.” This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him. Saint John tells us: “Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” “And he rose and followed him.” There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.

Here is the Old Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Apostle and Evangelist: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Matthew

Finally, to close out my thoughts on St. Matthew, from the Patron Saint index: Catholic Saints Info: St. Matthew

Live well!

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