I must apologize for posting this a few days late. It was in my email, but I overlooked it until now, Fr. Hart
SAINT MATTHEW'S DAY
The feast-day of St. Matthew comes with a double punch because we celebrate him as both Apostle and Evangelist. As an apostle, he was one of the “twelve valiant saints” chosen by Christ to be eye-witnesses of His earthly ministry and particularly of His resurrection and ascension. These twelve (and the number is symbolic) were the patriarchs of the New Israel. Although the “holy Twelve” have long since left this earth, the promise of Jesus written down by Matthew remains secure: “Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world. Amen.” These are the final words of Matthew's Gospel, words which hint that the Apostles will have their successors in the ongoing ministry of the Church.
We celebrate Mathew moreover because he was what the Church's liturgy calls an “evangelist.” That term means that he, along with Mark, Luke, and John, was the human author of the book which bears his name, “The Gospel According to St. Matthew.” We must stress human author, since the ultimate Author of these books is God Himself. Just as the Twelve were instruments of Christ in proclaiming His message, so the four Evangelists were instruments of the Holy Spirit in writing down the very Word of God.
St Matthew's Day is a time to reflect on the nature of our Faith as Gospel. Religion, generally speaking, is man's quest for God. The numerous religions of the world are a long sad series of human attempts to seek out and find God, not entirely lacking some small blessings which come through God's universal grace, but consistently winding up in frustration. “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks unto Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools....” (Romans 1:21-22a). All religion, as a quest for God, winds up in failure and despair. It is a dead-end street.
But the Gospel is the true story of God's relentless and victorious quest for man. It began when God went walking in the Garden of Eden in pursuit of Adam and Eve. It continued right on until the day when Jesus came to Matthew, “sitting at the receipt of custom,” and said, “Follow me.” Matthew was not searching for God; he was only going about his daily business of a rather contemptible sort. But God in Jesus Christ was seeking Matthew. Matthew went on to write down the good news that God's quest “to seek and save that which is lost,” even publicans and sinners, is a successful and triumphant enterprise. And as Jesus found Matthew, we rejoice that He has likewise found us. And having found us, He will be with us, “even until the end of the world.” LKW