Feast of Saint Matthew, evangelist

(Ephesians 4:1-7.11-13; Matthew 9:9-13)

For almost a hundred years countries have honored their war dead with a “tomb of the unknown soldier.” With the discovery of DNA, the custom has faced a challenge. Most every fallen soldier, no matter how mutilated, may be identified through his or her DNA make-up. But, of course, war dead are still given due respect by the reverence paid to their multiple burial sites. Today the Church honors an evangelist whose identity has undergone the reverse challenge to that of unknown soldiers.

Although Matthew, the publican, has traditionally been associated with the author of the first gospel, historians cannot find firm evidence for the linkage. Most certainly the gospel was written by a scribe who did not know Jesus historically. From the way the gospel is written, we can say that the author was fluent in Greek, was conversant with the Jewish Scriptures, and had a developed sense of Church structure.

We need not be disillusioned that we cannot identify with precision any of the four evangelists. But we should rejoice in the fact that they have related to us the story of Jesus. It is this story rendered in four unique versions which keeps us on the path of righteousness. It is this gospel that leads us to salvation.