Feast of Saint Matthew, apostle and evangelist
(Ephesians 4:1-7.11-13; Matthew 9:9-13)
Nothing can be said about St. Matthew with certainty besides that he composed a gospel. Today’s gospel passage speaks of a tax-collector named Matthew being called by Jesus. Evidently this tax-collector is considered the evangelist because one tradition speaks of a certain Matthew as a compiler of sayings about Jesus. Whoever he (or perhaps she) was, the person is owed a great deal of credit for the written legacy left.
Matthew’s gospel has prominence as the first work in the New Testament. It has also been given great attention by both Catholics and Protestants. Catholics see in it a testimony of the primacy of St. Peter and his successors. They quote Jesus telling Peter, “’…you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.’” Protestants paradoxically find in Matthew reason to eschew hierarchy. They cite Jesus saying to his disciples, “’Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.’”
We note in the first gospel the deepest reflection on the Church. What stands out here is Jesus’ desire that his community serve one another as brothers and sisters. Members should be ready to forgive those who stray from righteousness and even to seek them out. There should not be any grabbing for honors among them. Quite the contrary, they should be known for humility.