I chose St. Matthew as the saint whose name I will take at Confirmation because my middle name is the same and I wanted to learn more about him. Matthew’s original name was Levi and he was raised in Capernaum by his father, Alphaeus. He knew many languages, particularly Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew). He was a Jewish man who worked for the Romans collecting taxes from other Jews. Because many tax collectors were known for keeping some of the money they collected for themselves (many made themselves rich in this way), they were typically seen as traitors by other Jews and were not well liked. They were considered sinners, so it was surprising to many that Jesus would call such a man to be an intimate friend of His.
Matthew was a young, wealthy tax collector when he came to know Jesus. He was sitting at the tax collector’s desk near the Sea of Galilee when Jesus approached him and said “Come, follow me.” Matthew got up and followed Jesus. When he rose to follow Christ, he invited Jesus to come eat with him and other tax collectors. At the dinner, the Pharisees were angry and asked why someone who was such a great teacher (Jesus) would eat with such immoral people (the tax collectors). Jesus answered, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12b-13). After this, Matthew acknowledged his sinfulness, repaid people whom he had cheated, gave his possessions to the poor and followed Christ with the other Apostles. He was known for leaving his wealth behind him and following Christ in Galilee. He was present at His crucifixion and also a witness to His Resurrection. He was also there for His Ascension and again, on Pentecost.
Matthew preached the Gospel to the Hebrews of Alexandria, Ethiopia, and in Persia. Spreading the Gospel was not an easy task as people had to travel on foot to each village, preaching to people who were not necessarily open to the words being told to them. The events surrounding Matthew’s death are disputed. One states he was killed at an altar while praying in Ethiopia and the famous painter, Caravaggio, shows this depiction. Another account tells he was in Egypt and killed before an altar by a soldier of a king he had rebuked. Matthew is the author of the first Gospel and his purpose, other than telling of