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MATTHEW, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST MATHEW


APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST MATTHEW / MATHEW

Matthew, also known as Levi, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus and the author of the Gospel of Matthew. He 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 amounts 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.

FEATURES OF MATTHEW 

As a tax collector, Matthew faced unpopularity among the Jews due to the association of this role with corruption and collaboration with the Roman occupiers.

Jesus saw Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth and said, “Follow me.” In response to his invitation, Matthew got up and followed Him, forsaking his profession and former life (Mt 9:9).

After his encounter with Jesus, Matthew hosted a feast in Christ’s honor. The guests at this feast included fellow tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees objected to Jesus eating with such people, but Jesus responded, “I am not come to call the just, but sinners.”

After Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, Matthew is said to have spent around 15 years preaching the Gospel to the Hebrews. He wrote his Gospel in Aramaic during this period. Later, he proceeded with his missionary work in the Eastern region.

Like all the apostles (except John the Evangelist), Matthew was martyred. However, accounts of his martyrdom vary widely. His fate remains uncertain – he could have been burned, stoned, or beheaded.

The feast day of Matthew differs between the Western and Eastern Churches due to the mystery surrounding his martyrdom. In the West, his feast is celebrated on September 21. In the East, it is observed on November 16.

MATTHEW’S GOSPEL

Matthew’s Gospel is the first book in the New Testament. Jesus is depicted as the Messiah who fulfills Old Testament prophecies and establishes His rightful kingship over the Jewish people.

The Gospel includes important teachings of Jesus, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), which features the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and various parables.

In Matthew’s Gospel, the “Kingdom of Heaven” is a prominent theme that refers to God’s reign and the new covenant established by Jesus.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gives His disciples the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19-20).

REFLECTION

Matthew did not find peace or gain a good reputation from working as a tax-collector. However, through meeting and following Jesus, he exchanged material wealth for joy and recognition. Matthew’s transformation from tax collector to respected apostle and evangelist showcases the immense impact of faith. Like Matthew, we should find joy in Jesus and his gospel.

Against societal expectations, Jesus appointed Matthew, a tax collector, to be one of his apostles. This shows that God’s love and grace are for everyone, regardless of their background.

Matthew’s prompt response to Jesus’ call exemplifies the faith and obedience believers should demonstrate. Christians are encouraged to respond without delay to God’s call, having faith in His plan and abandoning any hindrances or former ways of living.

Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’ Great Commission highlights the value of evangelism and the formation of disciples. Christians have a responsibility to spread the Gospel, educate others about Jesus, and support new believers, carrying on the mission given by Jesus to His disciples.

The detailed recording of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew’s Gospel serves as a guide for Christian living. Those who believe are motivated to adhere to Jesus’ teachings, which encompass exhibiting mercy, pursuing righteousness, and leading lives of integrity and humility.

Matthew’s emphasis on prophecy fulfillment provides confidence in the trustworthiness of God’s promises. His Gospel continues to be a vital source of Christian teachings, bridging Jewish tradition with the Christian message of redemption and grace. Christians can find reassurance in God’s plan and hope for eternal life through Jesus Christ.

 


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