St. Matthew: The Tax Collector Turned Apostle

From tax collector to saint, St. Matthew is an inspiring example of conversion, discipleship, and the transformative power of God’s love.

St. Matthew was one of the twelve apostles personally chosen by Jesus himself. He also authored one of the four Gospels in the New Testament. St. Matthew’s life – from his time as a tax collector to becoming a devoted apostle – is a testimony of how God’s saving grace can conform even the most hardened of sinners. His journey from sinner to saint offers teachings that still resonate today.

The Tax Collector’s Calling

Matthew, also known as Levi, was a tax collector in the bustling town of Capernaum, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. In his time, tax collectors were often viewed with suspicion and disdain by the Jewish community. This is because they worked for the Roman authorities, collecting taxes from their fellow Jews and sometimes overcharging to pocket extra money for themselves.

One day, while sitting at his tax booth, Jesus approached Matthew and said those life-changing words, “Follow me.” Without hesitation, Matthew left everything behind and followed Jesus. This moment of conversion is a powerful reminder that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace and the call to discipleship.

The Feast at Matthew’s House

Shortly after becoming a disciple, Matthew invited Jesus and his fellow tax collector friends to his house for a meal. This event, often referred to as the “Feast at Matthew’s House,” was a pivotal moment in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus’ embracement of outcasts and sinners with love rather than avoiding them astonished the Pharisees and religious leaders, who believed righteous people should not associate with sinners. Yet Jesus welcomed them without discrimination.

At this feast, Jesus also reinforced his mission as the Great Physician who came to heal the sick, both physically and spiritually. He explained to the Pharisees that he came not for the righteous but for sinners who needed repentance.

Author of the Gospel of Matthew

St. Matthew’s role as an apostle didn’t end with his call to follow Jesus. He went on to become the author of the Gospel of Matthew, one of the four Gospels in the New Testament. In this Gospel, he provides a unique perspective on Jesus’ life, teachings, and ministry.

Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and the Messiah awaited by the Jewish people. It is a valuable resource for understanding Jesus’ teachings and his mission to bring salvation to all humanity.

As Catholics, we can look to St. Matthew as an inspiring example of conversion, discipleship, and the transformative power of God’s love. May we strive to live our lives in a way that reflects the lessons learned from his remarkable journey.

Prayer to St. Matthew

O Glorious St. Matthew,
in your Gospel you portray Jesus
as the longed-for Messiah
who fulfilled the Prophets
of the Old Covenant and
as the Lawgiver who founded
a Church of the New Covenant.
Obtain for us the grace to see
Jesus living in His Church and
to follow His teaching in our lives
on Earth so that we may live forever
with Him in heaven.

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