'sinner turned saint'
21st September 2020
'people felt that he was unworthy'
Today is day that the church remembers
and celebrates St. Matthew,
the Apostle and Evangelist
who wrote the Gospel that appears
first in the New Testament.
Little is known about Matthew,
except that he was the son of Alpheus,
and he was likely born in Galilee.
He was different from the other Apostles -
not a popular man;
many people felt that he was unworthy
to be a chosen as a follower of Jesus
as he worked for the Romans
as a tax collector.
The Romans ruled Palestine
and the Jewish people in the time of Jesus
and forced the Jewish people
to pay taxes to them.
Many of the tax collectors cheated
the people by charging more taxes
than required and keeping
the extra money for themselves.
The Jews considered the tax collectors traitors.
In Chapter 9 of his Gospel,
Matthew tells a story about how Jesus
called him to follow him
and how the Jewish people felt
about tax collectors.
You can read it in chapter 9:9-13.
In this story, the Pharisees,
a group of Jews who strictly followed
all the laws of their religion,
call tax collectors "sinners."
Jesus knew in his heart
that Matthew was not a sinner or a cheat.
Matthew wrote his Gospel for Jewish people
who had become followers of Christ.
He wanted his audience to know that Jesus
was the Messiah that God had promised
to send to save all people.
Matthew's Gospel makes clear
that Jesus is the fulfilment
of everything said by the prophets
in the Old Testament.
Matthew is also the only Evangelist
who shares the eight Beatitudes
with his readers (Chapter 5).
His Gospel faithfully reports
how Jesus described
who will be truly blessed by God
in the Kingdom and the attitudes
and actions that are required
for those who follow
the new Law Jesus came to bring.
After Jesus' Ascension,
Matthew preached the Gospel,
as Jesus asked his disciples to do.
It is believed that he established
Christian communities in Ethiopia
and other sections
of the continent of Africa
Tradition tells us that he died as a martyr.
The symbol for Matthew's Gospel
is a man with wings.
Matthew wrote about Jesus' Incarnation,
and his Gospel makes clear
that Jesus was true God and true man.
Predictably, Matthew is the patron saint
of bankers, because he dealt with money
as a tax collector.
But anyone who reads Matthew's Gospel
knows that money was not important to him.
What was important was believing in
and living as a follower of Christ.
Matthew helps us to remember
that it is our faith in Jesus
that makes us truly rich!