Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13;Psalm 18(19):2-5; Matthew 9:9-13
|St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist|
'He was born in Capernaum, and was working as a tax-collector when Jesus called him. He wrote his gospel in Aramaic, and is said to have preached in the East.'
There is a little enigma about the Gospel of Matthew. The reading today, is the calling of Matthew as an apostle of Jesus - the Tax Collector the Pharisees saw as sinner just because of the very nature of his work. Yet, it seems odd that the author treats the disciple in the third person - if he wrote the Gospel, would he not have said 'I was sitting by my customs house, when He called me' ? Whoever wrote this Gospel, certainly the tax collector became an apostle, and later preached the good news in the East. If the Apostle Matthew wrote it it must have been iat a very great age, as internal evidence suggests it was written after the Gospel of Mark, which is dated to about 65 AD. Perhaps "The Gospel that contains the story about how Levi (Matthew) was called" became known as "the Gospel OF Matthew"...
We can discern something of the character of the author of the Gospel. A gifted teacher, using a particular set of styles such as 'you have heard how it was said... but I say unto you', and the use of potent imagery (cunning as snakes, harmed as doves(10:16). This Gospel is well structured, in five balancing episodes, and easy to read. It provides a message that fits the relationship between Judaism and Christianity at the end of the first century (it was written in Antioch) and which still informs us today about how the New Covenant is the one the Jews have always looked for. It was quickly well known - St Ignatius in his early letters that are dated around 108, only refers to this Gospel and not the other three.
The enigma does nothing to take away the impact of Matthew the Apostle's life, and the way he was called has happened to many of us. We go about our business and life, and then suddenly and unexpectedly, we feel called by Christ towards his way of ding business and of living our lives. Christ keeps on calling - if we miss his first call, there will be another and another, and whatever we are called to becomes an imperative, and our vocation opens up to us.