When he was born around the birth of Christ, Matthew was named Levi by his father, Alpheus. When Levi grew up, he became a tax collector in Capernaum, a city in Galilee. He was working when Jesus asked him to follow him, which Levi did without question. Changing his name to Matthew, he became one of the 12 Apostles and stayed with Jesus until His Crucifixion.
Matthew was among the Apostles when the Resurrected Jesus revealed himself. At that time, Jesus promised Matthew and the others that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and that they must bear witness for Him. Then they witnessed His miraculous Ascension into heaven, and afterward, the Apostles went to Jerusalem and joined Jesus' mother, Mary, in prayer.
Matthew went on to become one of the foremost of those who bore witness to Christ. He wrote the first of the four Gospels, telling the world of the life and teachings of Jesus. Most Bible scholars believe Matthew wrote the Gospel during the second half of the first century while he lived in Jerusalem.
When Herod Agrippa began to persecute Christians in Jerusalem, theologians believe Matthew fled the city. Most maintain that he preached the Gospel in Judea and then spread the Word in such countries as Ethiopia, Persia, Macedonia, Syria, Egypt and Ireland.
The exact details of Matthew's death remain uncertain. Although he is venerated as a martyr, one tradition holds that he died a natural death. Other traditions say that he died in Ethiopia or Persia. His feast is observed in the East on November 16, but in the West it is celebrated on September 21.
O Glorius Saint Matthew,
in your Gospel you portray Jesus
as the longed-for Messiah
who fulfilled the Prophets of the Old Covenant
and as the new Lawgiver who founded
a Church of the New Covenant.
Obtain for us
the grace to see Jesus
living through his Church
and to follow his teachings
in our lives on earth
so that we may live forever
with him in heaven.
From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives
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