The Feast of St Matthew September 21_ 2008 Epistle Reading - II by sofiaie


									                            The Feast of St. Matthew
                              September 21, 2008

Epistle Reading - II Corinthians 4:1-6
Gospel Reading - Matthew 9:9-13

      “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”

        Fitting words from St. Paul to the Corinthians and to us as we celebrate
the Feast of St. Matthew today...St. Matthew to whom the writing of the first of
the synoptic Gospels is attributed...St. Matthew who told his own story in
today‟s Gospel reading.
The Gospel:
        Matthew was not a popular individual in his day. As a publican, or tax
collector, he bid for his job by agreeing to pay Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler
of Galilee, a certain amount in advance. Any money he collected over what he
paid Herod, went into his own pocket. Matthew‟s office was located on the
border to enable him to collect tolls on goods being brought into his district of
Galilee. Publicans were universally despised by the Jews because they worked
for their oppressors and made a profit by adding charges to the established
levies. They were labeled as „unclean‟ by the Pharisees. Thus, their associates
were other publicans and outcasts from the mainstream Jewish society. We
can assume that Matthew had heard of Jesus and subscribed to His words
because, as the Gospel pointed out, when our lord said “„follow me,‟ he arose
and followed him.”[Matthew 9:9]. We can also assume that the meal which
took place at Matthew‟s home was to celebrate his new discipleship. Who else
would he invite but his circle of friends who were fellow publicans and other
societal castoffs? When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about his choice of
eating companions, He told them that he had “not come to call the righteous,
but sinners to repentance.” [Matthew 9:13]
Matthew’s Life:
        We know that Matthew joined the other Apostles; however, his life after
that first Feast of Pentecost is somewhat unclear. Historians seem to agree
that he left the region around Palestine around 42 AD and did missionary work
in Ethiopia and, possibly, Persia. He is said to have written his Gospel between
60 and 68 AD, and was martyred, most probably by burning, sometime after
that. He is the Patron Saint of tax-collectors, money- changers (those who loan
money in today‟s world), alcoholics and hospitals.
Matthew and Paul:
        Matthew‟s Gospel was written for Jews who had already converted to
Christianity, as well as for Jews who had not yet converted. It was Matthew‟s,
as well as Paul‟s, intent to lift the veil from the hearts of the unbelievers and
bring them to salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet, both Matthew and Paul
knew well what Paul wrote in today‟s Epistle reading that “if our Gospel be hid,
it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the
minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ,
who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” [II Corinthians 4:3-4].
Today, just as it was in the time of Matthew and Paul, “the god of this
world”...the god of materialism...the god of alive and well. It‟s the god
that has led people to make a conscious choice against the God of Salvation to
reject faith because the way of faith is not how they choose to live...People who
through the small decisions they make, thrust God into the background and
obscure spiritual values. The god of this world solicits the adoration of money,
power and position and denies the God who promises eternal life to those who
forsake the god of this world.
       The economy is on everyone‟s mind these days. Economists can give you
any variety of explanations about why things got so bad in such a relatively
short period of time. Some will tell us about too many or too few regulations
governing the banking and investment industry. Others will talk about the
world economy and the creation of a „perfect storm‟ which led to the collapse of
what we thought was un-collapsible. Many agree that sub-prime mortgage
lending underlies the current financial crisis, but few go further than that to
uncover greed as the true foundation...Greed for the money to be made by
placing people in loans where payments escalated faster than their income and
the property wasn‟t worth the amount of the loan payoff...Greed of banks who
foreclosed on houses, rather than trying to work with the homeowners on
renegotiating reasonable mortgage payments, thereby leaving lenders with large
inventories of properties that can‟t be sold profitably. Granted, this is a very
simplistic explanation of today‟s economic problems, yet an explanation which
demonstrates the truth of Paul‟s words about those who worship the god of this
world and relegate the God of salvation to a mere thought or an empty word.
The greed of today‟s money lenders parallels the greed of publicans, who unlike
Matthew, continued to over tax and tariff their people to line their own
pockets...People who made the conscious choice to turn from faith in the
promises and words many heard from the mouth of Jesus Himself...promises of
eternal life in exchange for living a life in tune with the Summary of the Law of
loving God and loving others to live a life in service of themselves and the god of
this world.
       Today, we remember St. Matthew: apostle, evangelist, martyr, and writer
of the Gospel...a Gospel which recounts the life of Our Lord and bridges the old
and the new covenants which God made with His people...A Gospel which was
there for the Jewish converts and those contemplating conversion and is there
for us to read and re-read to gain additional insight into our relationship with
God. Paul wrote “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” May
we through our prayers and interactions with others bring the Gospel that is
hid to the lost and convert those who continue to worship the god of this world
to the glory of the light of our God of faith and salvation.

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