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How did St. Matthew go from being a tax collector to an apostle?

The call of Christ is powerful. But we still have to respond.

Being a tax collector meant that you were quite unpopular among the Jewish people of Jesus’ time. Those who collected taxes from their own people on behalf of the occupying Romans were considered traitors and enemy-collaborators. These tax collectors also tended to be rich, usually pocketing extra in addition to the Roman requirements—hence they were seen as profiting off the subjugation of their own brethren. They were classified among the sinners with whom any practicing Jew would not associate.

Matthew, son of Alphaeus, was from Galilee. We don’t know a lot about him, but we do know that he was a tax collector, and we can only imagine how his fellow Jews regarded him. It was against this backdrop that a fellow Galilean came to Matthew’s tax booth one day.

The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio

“Follow Me,” was all the Galilean Rabbi said.

Matthew didn’t need to make any calculations. He didn’t stop and count the cost. He just got up and followed Him.

The rest, as they say, is history. The simple, direct call of Christ—and Matthew’s unquestioning response to it—echoed through the rest of the Apostle’s earthly life. He followed Our Lord faithfully, wrote a Gospel, preached the Faith, and died a martyr. He put his hand to the plough and never looked back.

St. Matthew is a perennial reminder of the power of God’s grace—and a challenge to us to get up and follow Christ just as he did. Our conversion might not be so dramatic. It might be a quiet resolution from day to day, a continual return to His way when we find ourselves wandering. A beautiful, bronzed statue of the Evangelist is a perfect way to remind yourself to stay true to God’s call. Available right here at The Catholic Company!

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