Feast of Saint Matthew, apostle and evangelist
(Ephesians 4:1-7.11-13; Matthew 9:9-13)
John’s gospel can be said to be more sublime. Luke’s gospel, all in all, is probably more beautiful and Mark’s more passionate. But Matthew’s gospel seems to be the preferred gospel among people who take their faith seriously. More than the others, Matthew’s gospel teaches Christians how to follow Christ. After the narratives of Jesus’ infancy and baptism at the beginning and before the account of his passion, death, and resurrection at the end, the Gospel of Matthew gives five expertly formed lessons in discipleship. Each of these lessons has a narrative and a discourse. They inform readers how to live, how to evangelize, what the kingdom of God is like, how to be a church, and what to expect at the end of time.
Today’s passage from Matthew tells how Jesus called a tax-collector named Matthew to follow him. This man has been thought to be the writer of the gospel because a second century scholar mentions a certain Matthew as the collector of sayings of Jesus in Hebrew. Scholars today, however, see the author as having written in Greek during the eighth or ninth decade of the first century. He probably never met Jesus although he knew a lot about him, especially his Jewish background.
Matthew’s gospel emphasizes the importance of faith. If we are to experience the wonder of Jesus’ works, we must believe in him as Lord. As Jesus promises at the end of the gospel, he will accompany us until the end of time. Believing in his presence, we may turn to him in our need and experience his gracious care.