Sunday, September 21, 2014

St. Matthew the Apostle

One day Jesus was walking and saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at a tax collection post, and said to him, "Follow me." And Matthew stood up and followed Him, and became one of His twelve apostles.

Tax collectors in those days were social outcasts. Devout Jews avoided them because they were usually dishonest (the job carried no salary, and they were expected to make their profits by cheating the people from whom they collected taxes). Patriotic and nationalistic Jews hated them because they were agents of the Roman government, the conquerors, and hated them with a double hatred if (like Matthew) they were Jews, because they had gone over to the enemy, had betrayed their own people for money. Thus, throughout the Gospels, we find tax collectors (publicans) mentioned as a standard type of sinful and despised outcast. Matthew brought many of his former associates to meet Jesus, and social outcasts in general were shown that the love of Jesus extended even to them.

There is not much historical information about Matthew's ministry and martyrdom, but the general conclusion is that he was martyred while evangelizing in an area south of the Caspian Sea possibly Persia or Syria.

According to the consensus, Matthew wrote his Gospel around 80 AD, or about 50 years after Christ's death and resurrection. For comparison's sake, Alexander the Great's two biographies were written about 400 years after his death and are considered generally reliable. However, some scholars, including one famous liberal scholar, date Matthew to no later than 65 AD, a mere 30 years after Christ.

Some of Matthew's unique accounts include the Star of Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, Herod's execution of the innocent babies, the earthquake at the crucifixion, and the trinitarian formula for baptism.

It is interesting to note that some claim the "Star of Bethlehem" has received surprising confirmation in a recent, comprehensive astronomical study, while second century Greek historian, Phlegon, confirms Matthew's account of the earthquake that followed Christ's death on the cross.

Propers for Matthew - Apostle and Evangelist

The Collect.

O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle and Evangelist; Grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires, and inordinate love of riches, and to follow the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle - 2 Corinthians iv:1.

THEREFORE seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel - St. Matthew ix:9.

AND as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

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