Feast of St Matthew

Thoughts on the Lessons for the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Sept. 21, 2018. (The feast of the patron or title of a church may be observed on or transferred to a Sunday, except in the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter.)

St. Matthew and the angel

St. Matthew and the angel (1661). Oil painting on canvas by
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669). Louvre-Lens, Pas-de-Calais, France. (Click image to enlarge.)

First Reading: Proverbs 3:1-6

Keep God’s commandments and use them to guide your life, and you will be amply rewarded with a good life and good reputation. We’ll hear this message from Proverbs echoed in the following readings. Follow these rules well, the Proverbs passage urges us – “wear them round your neck” – and God and your neighbors alike will think highly of you.

Psalm: Psalm 119:33-40

The longest of all the Psalms, Psalm 119 devotes its 176 verses to an extended celebration of love for God’s teaching, the Torah. The Psalmist calls us to be humble and generous, turning from selfish gain and“vanities” to follow God’s ways through life-giving righteousness. God teaches us to be just in our dealings with God and our neighbors, a simple rule that stands as a continuing theme through both testaments.

Second Reading: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

In this passage we read an early Christian opinion similar to what we heard in the first two readings: Scripture, the sacred writings that we learn from childhood, provides a solid core for us to learn to live in righteousness. But here’s a twist: In Timothy’s time, the New Testament was not yet assembled into a book, and the four Gospels were only then being written down. “Scripture” meant the Old Testament, with its strong Torah command to love God, love our neighbor, and care for the poor and the alien.

Gospel: Matthew 9:9-19

Jesus had a bad reputation for hanging out with sinners, outcasts and people the authorities considered mighty suspicious: Prostitutes, drunks and lepers; women, foreigners, and maybe worst of all, tax collectors, those despised collaborators who extracted the Roman empire’s taxes from their neighbors. People like Matthew, who despite his outcast status as tax collecter hurried to follow Jesus … and invited him home for dinner. Jesus shows us how to love our neighbors – all of our neighbors – not just the ones who look and think like us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *