Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle

The Apocalyptic personification of Saint Matthew. St Matthew Day is celebrated on November 16th in the East.
"Inspiration of St Matthew" by Caravaggio.

"Inspiration of St Matthew" by Caravaggio.


As a recognized saint of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches, St. Matthew's feast is celebrated on September 21 in the west and on November 16 in the east. In the Orthodox Church he is also commemorated on June 20 (or July 13) with the other Apostles in the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles.

As the other evangelists, Christian art depicts Saint Matthew with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7 as he is accompanied by the form of a winged man. Three paintings of Matthew by Caravaggio in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome are among the landmarks of Western art.

Legend is that Saint Matthew preached for many years after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and eventually traveled to Ethiopia. He is said to have been martyred at the command of the King for opposing the King's marriage to a woman believed to be the King's niece but who had taken the vows of perpetual virginity of the nuns.

St Matthew's remains were taken to Salermo, Italy in the tenth century.
At the Introit of the Mass on St. Matthew Feast Day the Church sings: "The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment; the law of God is in his heart. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen".

The introductory prayer of the St Matthew Feast Mass is: May we be assisted, O Lord, by the prayers of the blessed apostle Matthew, that what of ourselves we are unable to obtain may be given to us by his intercession. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen."

The Epistle (Ezekiel 1:10-14) of St Matthew's Feast Mass reads:
"The likeness of the face of the four living creatures: the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side of all the four, and the face of an ox on the left side of all the four, and the face of an eagle over all the four. And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of everyone were joined, and two covered their bodies, and everyone of them went straight forward; whither the impulse of the spirit was to go, thither they went, and they turned not when they went. And as for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like that of burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps. This was the vision running to and fro in the midst of the living creatures, a bright fire, and lightning going forth from the fire. And the living creatures ran and returned like flashes of lightning."

And St. Matthew's Day Gospel:
"At that time Jesus saw a man sitting in the custom-house, named Matthew; and He saith to him: Follow Me. And he rose up and followed Him. And it came to pass as He was sitting at meat in the house, behold many publicans and sinners came, and sat down with Jesus and His disciples. And the Pharisees seeing it, said to His disciples: Why doth your master eat with publicans and sinners? But Jesus hearing it, said: They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill. Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners." (Matthew 9:9-13)

Through this Gospel of St. Matthew we are taught that when God calls we should obey at once because if we do not He may withdraw us from His grace. St Matthew not only left the place where he sinned, he abandoned the house, the life that led him to sin. If we wish to enter the kingdom of God we should follow Christ in poverty, humility, meekness and patience as Matthew did.

Excerpt from a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church:

" Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me." Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men. He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: "Follow me." This following meant imitating the pattern of his life - not just walking after him. Saint John tells us: "Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."

 

 


 

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