Saint of the Day for 21 September: St Matthew
St Matthew: the story of the apostle who renounced wealth to follow Jesus
Apostle and Evangelist
1st century BC, Capernaum (Galilee)
1st century, Ethiopia
Through that admirable readiness with which you, O glorious St Matthew, abandoned your employment, your home and your family, in order to conform to the invitations of Jesus Christ, obtain for all of us the grace of always rejoicing in all divine inspirations. By that admirable humility, with which you, O glorious St Matthew, writing the Gospel of Jesus Christ before all others, did not qualify yourself otherwise than by the name of a publican, impart to us all divine grace and all that serves to preserve it.
Patron Saint of
Salerno, Nichelino, Mirano, Molinella, Riese Pio X, Fabrica di Roma, Montenero di Bisaccia, Albanella, Asiago, Gattatico
Bankers, accountants, customs officers, accountants
Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, who, called Levi by Jesus to follow him, left the office of publican or tax collector and, elected among the Apostles, wrote a Gospel proclaiming that Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, fulfilled the promise of the Old Testament.
The Saint and Mission
St Matthew, one of the best known apostles, embodies the quintessence of redemption and transformation through the mission of Jesus Christ. As a publican, considered a sinner and collaborator with the Roman rulers, Matthew is called to a life of deep devotion and service.
St Matthew’s vocational account is notable for the readiness with which he responds to Jesus’ invitation. His immediate readiness to leave everything he had built to follow Christ is the testimony of a heart deeply touched by divine grace, ready to undertake a mission of great importance. This conversion path transformed him into a zealous apostle and an inspired evangelist, through whom the Christian message was transmitted for generations.
St Matthew not only followed Jesus as a disciple but also took up the pen to write one of the Gospels, thus becoming an essential chronicler of the life and teachings of Christ. His mission, therefore, took on both an active and contemplative dimension, engaging in the dissemination of the Gospel through the written and living word. The Gospel according to Matthew particularly emphasises the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies, providing a bridge between the Old and New Testaments and thus facilitating the acceptance of the Christian message by the Jews.
His missionary profile is marked by a profound understanding of humanity, as evidenced in his preference for parables that touch on the daily lives of ordinary people. Matthew knew how to speak to the hearts of his contemporaries, using accessible images and language, making the greatness of the kingdom of heaven a tangible reality that everyone can understand.
St Matthew is a vibrant witness to a transforming encounter with Christ, an encounter that made him a missionary of hope, a man who saw his own life radically changed and sought to communicate this transformation to others. His mission was not only to proclaim, but to witness with his own life the power of the Gospel, showing that conversion is possible and that a new beginning is always at hand.
St Matthew represents a model of radical mission, a journey of conversion from a life of sin to one of grace, and from a position of service to an oppressive empire to one of service to a kingdom of love and truth. He reminds us that every person, regardless of their past, can be called to participate in the great mission of spreading the Good News by accepting Christ’s invitation to follow him and become fishers of men.
The Saint and Mercy
The figure of St Matthew, in the context of Christianity, is a powerful emblem of redemption and mercy. Before his conversion, Matthew was a publican, a tax collector, a trade frowned upon and associated with injustice and greed. Yet, it is to him that Jesus addresses a simple, yet profoundly transforming, ‘Follow me’.
Matthew’s call is a pivotal event that shows us divine mercy in action, a love that makes no distinction of class, profession or background. Jesus does not see in Matthew the sinner, but the man capable of redemption, of change. Here shines forth the mercy that is ready to welcome and give a new opportunity.
Matthew not only accepts Jesus’ invitation, but fully embraces his new life, dedicating himself to spreading the message of Christ. In his writings, he shows a deep understanding of the concept of mercy, a theme that permeates his Gospel, through the beatitudes, parables and teachings on forgiveness.
The Gospel according to Matthew greatly emphasises God’s mercy, illustrated through the narratives of Jesus healing the sick, welcoming sinners, and teaching unconditional love of neighbour. The famous parable of the merciless debtor, found only in Matthew’s Gospel, is a powerful lesson on the mercy and mutual forgiveness that are required of those who have experienced God’s mercy.
St Matthew thus becomes a banner of mercy, not only through his personal journey of conversion but also through his writings that continue to guide and inspire believers to embrace a path of love, forgiveness and acceptance. His life and Gospel are a living testimony that God’s mercy is infinite and available to all, an invitation to live according to the principles of love and mercy that Jesus himself embodied.
In celebrating St Matthew, we therefore reflect on the greatness of God’s mercy, which goes beyond all human barriers, ready to redeem and renew anyone who is willing to accept it. His story invites us to be instruments of this mercy, following Christ’s example in offering unconditional love, understanding and forgiveness to those we encounter in our lives.
S. Matthew, formerly called Levi, is the author of the first Gospel, which he wrote in Aramaic, and is one of the first Apostles whom Jesus called to follow him.
A Jew by birth, son of Alphaeus, according to St Mark he practised the trade of a tax collector in Capernaum. When the Divine Master told him to follow him, he was sitting at the tax collector’s desk on the shores of the lake. Here is the Gospel passage: “And Jesus went back to the sea; and all the people came to him and…