Tuesday, 21 September 2010

St Matthew the Evangelist


Today is the feast of St Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles and the author of the first Gospel. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax collectors place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, ie a tax collector by profession. He is to be identified with the Levi of Mark and Luke. His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. St Matthew's Gospel was written to fill a sorely-felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My Kingdom is not of this world." Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands.


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