Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Mark and Luke call Matthew by his Jewish name Levi and Mark says that he was “the son of Alphaeus” (Mark 2:14). He may have been the brother of James, who is also called the “the son of Alphaeus” (Mark 3:18). The name Matthew means “gift of Yaweh” and it is possible that he was given this name when he followed Jesus.
Because of his profession, Jews of strict observance would have nothing to do with him, for he fell under a relgious ban. He was despised by the Pharisees who hated allpublicans. Therefore, his response to the call of Jesus to follow him is all the more remarkable, as he stood up at once, “leaving everything behind” (Luke 5: 28).
Matthew’s Gospel is given pride of place in the canon of the New Testament, and was written to convince Jewish readers that their anticipated Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East.