Feast of Saint Matthew, evangelist
(Ephesians 4:1-7.11-13; Matthew 9:9-13)
For almost a hundred years countries all over the globe have honored their war dead with a “tomb of the unknown soldier.” With the discovery of DNA, the custom is facing a challenge. Fallen soldiers, no matter how mutilated, may be identified through his or her DNA composition. 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 in today’s passage, 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 gospel’s composition, we can say that although the author was conversant with the Jewish Scriptures, his fluency fluent in Greek and developed sense of Church structure probably situates him in a time beyond that of the original apostles.
We need not be disillusioned that we cannot precisely identify any of the four evangelists. Nevertheless we 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.