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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

St. Matthew the Apostle

A Homily by St. Jerome the Priest

The other Evangelists make mention of Matthew as Levi (by which name he was known as a publican ), and thus avoid the use of the name by which he ordinarily was known as an Apostle, as if from respect and honour thereto. Both names were his. But in his own Gospel he frankly called himself Matthew the Publican, according to the counsel of Solomon : He that is first in his own cause (that is, to accuse himself) seemed just : and as Isaiah saith : Declare thou (that is, enumerate thy transgressions) that thou makest be justified. For he would shew his readers that none who will strive to do better need be hopeless of salvation, since he himself had been all of a sudden changed from a publican into an Apostle.
Porphyry and the Emperor Julian the Apostate will have it that the account of this call of Matthew is either a stupid blunder on the part of a lying writer, or else that it sheweth what fools they were who followed the Saviour, to go senselessly after any one who called them. But there can be no doubt that before the Apostles believed, they had considered the mighty works and wonders which had gone before. Moreover, the glory and majesty of the hidden God, which shone somewhat through the Face of the Man Christ Jesus, were enough to draw them which gazed thereon, even at first sight. For if, as it is said, there be in the loadstone and amber a magnetic power which can make iron rings thereunto, how much more must not the Lord of all creatures have been able to draw upon himself those whom he called?
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him. They saw how that a publican who had turned to better things had found a place of repentance, and therefore they also hoped for salvation. It was not, as the Scribes and Pharisees complained, sinners clinging to their sinfulness who came to Jesus, but sinners repenting ; as indeed appeared from the next words of the Lord, where he saith : I will have mercy and not sacrifice ; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. The Lord went to the banquet of sinners that he might find an occasion to teach, and to break spiritual bread unto them which bade him.

Antiphon on Benedictus:
Ye which have forsaken all, and followed me, shall receive an hundredfold, * and shall inherit everlasting life.

O Almighty God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle and Evangelist : grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires, and inordinate love riches; and to follow the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.

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