Wednesday, 21 September 2016 : Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast day of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ our Lord, His principal disciples, who was also one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels as St. Matthew the Evangelist. Today we glorify the memory of this holy Apostle of God, who have worked hard and contributed so much to the advancement of the cause of the Lord, and through whom many souls have been saved.

But as we all should notice in the Scripture readings and in what we knew of the history of St. Matthew, which he wrote himself in his own Gospel, is that he was once a great sinner and even was rejected by his own people. He was known also as Levi, a tax collector, whose task in those times was to collect the taxes on behalf of the Romans, who have come to rule over the land of Judea and Israel. And many resented him and his fellow tax collectors for this very reason.

The tax collectors were seen as people of greed and money, and they were resented and despised by many because they were seen as collaborators and even traitors to the nation of the Jews, as they served the needs and wishes of the Roman conquerors, and even collected taxes on their behalf. No one certainly like to pay taxes, and not least to those who have been seen as pagan overlords by the Jews who that time had strong desire to be free.

And the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in particular resented them and looked down on them because they saw these tax collectors as sinners beyond the mercy of God. They scorned and treated these tax collectors with contempt, thinking that they alone deserve salvation from God because of their piety and faith in observing all the commandments of God in the laws of Moses.

And yet, God through His Apostle St. Matthew and his other disciples, including St. Mary Magdalene wanted to show these people, that His salvation is extended to all peoples, and all who desire to be forgiven and to be redeemed from their sins have equal chance in gaining the eternal life and grace promised to mankind by God. He wanted to let us know that as long as we are willing to change ourselves, the way will always be open for us.

We have to realise, brothers and sisters in Christ, that even great saints were once great sinners too. There is no man who has been born without sin, save for our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for He is God ever perfect and good, and His mother Mary, whom the Lord had prepared specially to be the bearer and Ark of the New Covenant in Christ our Lord. All others have sinned in their lives, be it small or major.

What matters is that they, that is all of us as well, have to change our ways, that we sin no more and commit no more abhorrent and wicked things in the sight of God. St. Matthew was once a tax collector named Levi, but once the Lord called him as He passed by his booth, he left everything behind, his workplace, his work, his money, possessions, and even his old name, taking up for himself the greater reward found in the Lord alone.

We too can follow in his footsteps, and in our own way, dedicate ourselves to help the Lord and His cause in His Church. St. Matthew used his great intellect and the gift given to him by the Lord, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to write the account of the life and the works of Jesus and His Apostles, which we now know as the Gospel of St. Matthew, through which many have been saved and brought to the justification in God.

We ourselves can devote our time, effort and attention to serve the Lord and His people, evangelising His Good News to the whole world, through our own words, actions and deeds. And in this, it is imperative that all of us take heed that our own actions and deeds matter a lot, since how else would people believe in what we are preaching and teaching to them about the Lord, if we ourselves do not practice and do what the Lord had asked us to do?

Therefore, brethren, as we rejoice in the glory of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist, and in all of God’s holy saints and people, let us all follow the Lord with all of our heart and minds, following the example of St. Matthew who left everything in order to follow the Lord his God, giving his all to the new cause to which he has been called.

Let us all renew our faith and commitment to God, and devote ourselves ever more to help the works of the Church, caring for the less fortunate and the needy, loving those who have been ostracised and hated, and showing mercy on our brethren, forgiving those who have brought us pain, misery and suffering. May the Lord help us in these endeavours. Amen.

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