Feast of St Matthew
Proverbs 3:1-6, II Timothy 3:14-17, Matthew 9:9-13.
We are remembering with gratitude today the evangelist Matthew, author of the first of the four gospels contained in the New Testament. Matthew’s gospel was written to a Jewish-Christian audience and presents Jesus as the promised Messiah and King who has come to establish the reign of God upon earth. Matthew quotes the Old Testament (or Hebrew scriptures) extensively, arguing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the ancient prophesies that spoke of the coming of the Messiah.
Matthew opens his gospel with this proposition that Jesus is the Messiah, noting the circumstances that surrounded his birth, and explaining their significance. Then follow five sections, each containing narratives describing the words and actions of Jesus, and a block of Jesus’ teaching. The teachings elaborate what the kingdom of heaven is, and describe how those who belong to that kingdom are to conduct themselves in the world. The five sections bring to mind the five books of the law – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy — all of which have been traditionally ascribed to Moses. The comparison is intentional: Moses was the great teacher of the Old Testament and of Israel; Jesus is the great teacher of the New Testament and of Christianity.