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Archive for September 21st, 2013

Prayer of the Day:

O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About St. Matthew: 

St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord’s twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired record of the Gospel was granted first place in the ordering of the New Testament. Among the four Gospels, Matthew’s portrays Christ especially as the new and greater Moses, who graciously fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew5:17) and establishes a new covenant of salvation in and with His own blood (26: 27-28).  Matthew’s Gospel is also well-known for the following:

  • The Visit of the Magi (2: 1-12)
  • The Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 5-7)
  • The Institution of Holy Baptism and the most explicit revelation of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28: 16-20:  Matthew begins with Baptism (John’s) and ends with Baptism and so continues the Lord’s Church)

Tradition is uncertain where his final field of labor was and whether Matthew died naturally or a martyr’s death. In celebrating this festival, we therefore give thanks to God that He has mightily governed and protected His Holy church through this man who was called and sent by Christ to serve the sheep of His pastures with the Holy Gospel.

St. Matthew was an excellent, noble man–not only one of the 12 fountains of consolation, the apostle of Jesus Christ of paradise, a holy evangelist, whose  words flowed from the great fountain in paradise, Jesus Christ.  He not only praised the Lord in his heart and with his tongue but also put his quill to paper and wrote his account as a memorial…pay attention so that everything in and about you is directed toward the glory of the Lord, according to David’s example in Psalm 103:2. In the kingdom of God it is said…”Strive with every skill and word, to please your Savior, Christ the Lord.”   None of the other evangelists described the history of  the Lord Jesus to such an extent as Matthew. He also has many beautiful passages that cannot be found in the others.

  • Here the Lord Jesus says (Matthew 11:27-29), Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
  • And again (Matthew 18:19-21), “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”
  • And in Matthew 28:19-20“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These three passages, which should cause the legs of all devout Christians to run quickly to the Church, were written only by Matthew.

—Valerius Herberger

(Quotes above from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

 Reflection:

Matthew was a despised collector of taxes.  He reports Jesus saying:  “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” Many of you know that tax collectors were second class citizens, at best:  they were collaborators with the occupying enemy, the Roman Empire, in collecting taxes. They were lumped together with sinners or here with whores! Matthew knew he was part of that group and yet his  name literally means “gift of God”.  

We do not know what Matthew thought and felt as he heard Jesus speak about one such as Matthew entering the Kingdom before the super-religious of his day.  Since there is more joy in heaven among the angels over one sinner repenting, as our Lord said, I would guess Matthew knew joy.  He had been forgiven in Christ Jesus, the very Son of God.    Of Matthew, Mark and Luke who record the list of the 12 Apostles, only Matthew lists himself with his former job:

Matthew 10: 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

He could have written: Matthew the former tax collector, but he did not. Just think:  the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write the Gospel and of course, the words above.  He wrote the continuation of the Scriptures. It seems Matthew never forgot who he  was and Who’s he was.  He was justified by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ, and not by his deeds,but by His deed. And out of the faith came forth in Matthew the fruit of love in the Gospel he wrote. From keeping ledgers as an accountant, to reporting the ledger of Jesus Christ stamped:  Debt Forgiven.  Matthew became his own name because of  Jesus. We give thanks to the Lord for all His mercy toward us sinners and tax collectors!

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