MATTHEW / MATHEW, THE APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST
Matthew, also known as Levi, was the son of Alpheus and lived in Capernaum. Levi was Hebrew name and Matthew was his Greek name. James the lesser was also the son of Alpheus. Hence, some consider Matthew and James the Less as brothers.
Before following Jesus, Matthew was a tax collector or publican. Publican means someone engaged in public service or in handling public money. The Jews considered tax collectors as traitors and outcasts because their collection was for Romans who were their pagan oppressors. The public hated tax collectors and treated them as exploiters because the publicans collected excessive amount than was necessary to pay to the government. That was why John the Baptist told the tax collectors, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed” (Lk 3:13). Jesus selected such a hated “criminal” and made him his apostle.
When Jesus called Levi, he left his profession and enormous wealth to follow Jesus. He used his skills to write the first gospel intended for the Jews, proving that the prophesies of the Old Testament about the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Matthew preached in Egypt and was killed with a spear in Ethiopia in 65 AD.
Jesus could gain peace and a reputation that Matthew could not attain through his profession as a tax-collector. Like Matthew, let us also consider Jesus and his gospel as our source of joy.