Thursday, September 21, 2006

September 21: St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Today many Christians remember Saint Matthew and are giving thanks to God for his witness as an apostle and evangelist. The Scripture readings associated with the day bear the themes of Matthew as a Gospel-writer (hence readings that speak of the Scriptures), Matthew as an Apostle, and Matthew as a sinner called by God's grace:

  • Psalm 119:33-40 or Psalm 19:2-5 (A stanza in praise of the Scriptures)
  • Ezekiel 2:8--3:11 (God gives the prophet a scroll, a message for the people of Israel)
  • Ephesians 2:4-10 (Christ takes sinners and incorporates them into the company of the saints.)
  • Matthew 9:9-13 (Jesus sees the tax-collector Matthew at his desk, and says, "Follow me.")

The Church has composed many prayers for this day. Here are two, one or both of which you may wish to offer within your heart:

From the Parisian Missal, 1936:

Almighty God, in your boundless mercy you choose Matthew, a tax collector, to share the dignity of your apostles: Enable us, sustained by his example, steadfastly to follow your Son Jesus Christ and to remain faithful in your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

From the Book of Common Prayer

We thank thee, heavenly Father, for the witness of thine Apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of thy Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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