St. Matthew the Evangelist icon
September 18th, 2013
4.5 x 6 inches
Ink, watercolor, gold leaf“With zeal, you followed Christ the Master,
Who in His goodness, appeared on earth to mankind.
Summoning you from the custom house,
He revealed you as a chosen apostle:
the proclaimer of the Gospel to the whole world!
Therefore, divinely eloquent Matthew,
we honor your precious memory!
Entreat merciful God that He may grant our souls remission of transgressions.” ~ Troparion (Tone 3) of the Feast of St. MatthewGo and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, says the Lord, alleluia!
- Antiphon of the Feast of St. Matthew
Happy Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist!
Here, St. Matthew is depicted as a young Jewish man presenting his Gospel to the viewer. The open book is illuminated and the words in gold are the first words of the Gospel of Matthew. Since he is also one of the Twelve Apostles, I also chose to signify that by having a tongue of flame above his head. I will be doing this with the other Twelve as well. :+: A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THE SAINT :+:St. Matthew the Apostle (and Evangelist) (first century A.D.)
, or “Levi, son of Alphaeus” is the traditional author of the Gospel according to Matthew, which is the first book of the New Testament. St. Matthew was a Jew from Galilee, and was probably born in Capernaum, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Tiberias). He was a publican (a tax collector) who worked in the custom-house in Capernaum, probably collecting taxes for Herod Antipas, as well as for the Romans. Because tax collectors were fellow Jews who worked for the Romans and helped them oppress the Jewish people (as well as taking advantage of their position to practice extortion unscrupulously on their Jewish brothers), they were shunned, hated and ranked among the worst of sinners. The Call and subsequent conversion of St. Matthew is mentioned both in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 5:27-31) as well in Matthew’s Gospel. As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)
St. Matthew followed Jesus with the other Twelve, and was present at the Last Supper, Resurrection, Ascension and the birth of the Church at Pentecost. It is not known for sure what became of St. Matthew after Pentecost. Some traditions place him as dying at Hierapolis in Asia Minor or in Ethiopia or even in Persia. Traditionally, he is believed to have been martyred. His relics are in the Cathedral dedicated to him in Salerno, Italy, in the crypt under the main altar.
One of the principal themes of St. Matthew’s Gospel is presenting Jesus Christ as the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. Matthew frequently quotes the Old Testament and references the words of the prophets and shows how their words are fulfilled in Jesus. He also stresses the rejection of Jesus by many of the Jewish leaders despite the great miracles He works. Jesus is also frequently called “Son of David” in this Gospel. St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Aramaic for the Jewish converts in Palestine, perhaps around 45 A.D. It is believed that it was written prior to the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., since St. Matthew does not mention the fulfillment of this prophecy of Jesus’.
All four of the Evangelists have a symbol that represents them in traditional Christian iconography, based on the four living creatures from Revelations 4:7 and Ezekiel 1:10. The symbol of St. Matthew is that of an angel, because of the associations with the beginning of his Gospel which begins with the angel of the Lord telling Joseph in a dream not to fear to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:18-23).
As a small little added note, our current pope, Pope Francis, recently did an interview, in which he mentioned the significance of his papal motto: “I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By Having Mercy and by Choosing Him], was very true for me.” The motto is taken from the Homilies of Bede the Venerable, who writes in his comments on the Gospel story of the calling of Matthew: “Jesus saw a publican, and since he looked at him with feelings of love and chose him, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’”
“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. St. John tells us: Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. The Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist is celebrated on September 21st. O God, who with untold mercy
And he rose and followed him. There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.
As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit. To see a deeper understanding of the great celebration Matthew held at his house, we must realise that he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love. Our Savior attests to this: Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him. He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet.” - from a homily on the Feast of St. Matthew, by St. Bede the Venerable
were pleased to choose as an Apostle
Saint Matthew, the tax collector,
grant that, sustained by his example and intercession,
we may merit to hold firm in following you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.