Saint Matthew

21st September

Jesus chose twelve men to be His companions during his public ministry on earth. These were the apostles, one of whom was called Matthew, also known as Levi, son of Alpheus. He was an accountant! How did Matthew, a Jew, end up dealing with money?

At the time, Palestine was ruled by the Romans who demanded the payment of taxes from all Jews. These taxes were sums of money demanded from all money earned, supposedly for the benefit and upkeep of the province. The men employed by the Romans to collect these taxes were called tax-collectors or publicans. These men were considered as traitors and sinners because besides being considered as collaborators with the Romans, many of them charged their fellowmen more money in taxes that were due. Then, they would keep the extra money for themselves!
Matthew was one of these men. Life changed for Matthew when Jesus passed the booth where he was collecting taxes. (Matt.9, 9-13) Matthew’s eyes met the eyes of Jesus, followed by the dramatic call, “Follow Me.” There and then, Matthew left everything and followed Jesus. By the evening, Jesus was dining at ‘a party’ with Matthew, the other apostles and other publicans, under the gaze of the frowning Pharisees.

Matthew remained a close follower of Jesus as one of His apostles, witnessing the Lord’s miracles and teaching. He witnessed the Risen Christ, received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, saw Jesus ascending into heaven and together with the other apostles was sent to preach the Good News. It is believed that Matthew left Palestine probably for Ethiopia where he continued to preach and convert people to the belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Saviour of the World.

There are various accounts about Matthew’s death, about whether he was martyred or whether he died a natural death. But Matthew lives on, as he continues to be a witness to Jesus Christ to this day through the Gospel attributed to him: the Gospel of Matthew. This Gospel was written in Aramaic/Hebrew for the Jewish Christians to convince them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the One sent by God to save all men. At that time, the Jews were expecting a Messiah that would free them from Roman rule but Matthew wanted to present Jesus as a Messiah who would establish a Spiritual Kingdom.

Matthew and his Gospel are represented with the symbol of an angel, a sign of his new life as a messenger of Christ, proclaiming the entry of Jesus, the Son of God in humanity.
Naturally, St. Matthew remains the patron saint of bankers and accountants!

Find a time to watch “Jesus calls the misfit tax-collector”

  • Talk to the children and let them express their thoughts about what Matthew could have felt when he looked into Jesus’ eyes
    what he thought / what made him leave everything and follow Jesus / what Matthew did after meeting Jesus until ‘the party’ /what would they have thought if they were there

Matthew had a special call. Jesus also calls us to follow Him. All the good thoughts, good examples from other people, that prompt us to do good are all invitations to follow Jesus in what we say and in what we do.

  • Encourage them to give examples from their daily lives.

It would be most suitable to open the Children’s Bible and locate the Gospel according to Matthew. One of the most popular parables in this gospel is the Parable of the Talents, a parable that refers to money, related by a tax-collector! (Matt 25,14-30)

  • Point out that in the New Testament, a talent was not a coin but a sum of money that by today’s standards would amount to about $4000/€3370.
  • After reading/relating the parable, explain that the talents mentioned in the parable refer to all those qualities that God gives to each and everyone of us.
  • These qualities are not the same for everyone, but each person has the right qualities and the right amount to achieve what God expects from each and everyone of us.

Encourage the children to express acknowledgement of their talents/good qualities.

For Family Prayer Time, lead the children to :

  • thank God for all the good qualities He has given them
  • ask God to show them the way how to use these qualities
  • ask God for help not to lose heart when we meet challenges as we continue to remember that like the wise labourers in the Parable of the Talents, “success is the result of hard work.”

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.